Fire grant stalled after court ruling

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR — Whether the city accepts any or all of a federal grant to restore up to 32 firefighter positions remains to be seen. Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand said last week that a 30-day extension was requested and granted for city officials to consider the feasibility of accepting the funds.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Prentis Edwards ruled on July 6 in favor of a city council motion to force Lamarand to accept a Federal Emergency Management Association grant of $8.1 million; the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant would enable the Taylor Fire Department to recall 32 firefighters laid off last year due to budget cuts.

Lamarand resisted accepting the grant, saying that when the two-year grant period ends the city would not be able to meet the financial obligation for pensions and benefits. Last month the city council approved a resolution to insist the grant be accepted.

Lamarand vetoed the resolution on June 22, and on June 26 the council met in special session to override the veto, after which Councilman John Delo filed papers with Wayne County Circuit Court to force acceptance of the grant.

Last week Lamarand said he is investigating whether a part of the grant can be accepted.

“The city is financially in a position to use $3.5 million of the SAFER Grant,” Lamarand said, “and remain capable of paying the out-of-pocket expenses at the conclusion of the two-year period.”

Accepting part of the grant would allow the city to rehire 14 firefighters.

Fire staffing also was expected to improve after a June 28 agreement between the city and Fire Union Local 1252, a five-year deal expected to be approved during the regular city council meeting Tuesday.

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)

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