Community center to stay open

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK– The city’s community center will remain open through the end of the fiscal year after a donation from the city’s Downriver Development Authority.

At a special meeting Tuesday, councilors voted to keep the community center open – one of four amendments to a deficit elimination plan for its struggling general fund proposed by City Administrator John Zech – after the DDA voted Monday to donate $334,000 to the city.

Closing the center would have saved the city, struggling with a $4.7 million budget shortfall, $413,900 in subsidies to the center and was one of the measures councilors considered at their Nov. 22 meeting but tabled to await the DDA’s decision on a $157,000 gift it had included in its deficit elimination plan but had not yet secured.

They also rescinded layoffs to 18 police and 18 fire department employees citing funds from a public safety millage that passed Nov. 8 and possible lawsuits against the city if it violated minimum staffing requirements outlined in contracts with the two departments.

The gift does not come without strings. City councilors must show the DDA how $115,000 of the funding is being used for the downtown district in which the center sits, especially in areas of DDA concern such as snow clearing.

DDA Executive Director Jennifer Kibby said the additional funds are meant to avoid two planned layoffs of Department of Public Services workers.

“The board would like to see the community center stay open and that DPS stay staffed or even more staffed,” she said.

Zech said the funds will also help delay decisions on some of the plan’s other aspects, including proposed layoffs to six full-time and two part-time city employees and reducing hours of three appointed positions from full to part time.

The layoffs were originally slated for Dec. 1 but have been postponed until Jan. 1. The community center is to remain open through the new fiscal year, beginning July 1, and will be re-evaluated after that, Zech said.