Dearborn, Downriver mutual services collaboration underway

By SHERRI KOLADE

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — If the city ever is involved in a natural disaster or emergency situation, nearby cities may respond faster to help.

City councilors approved the city’s membership in a services collaboration with the Downriver Department of Public Works during a meeting Jan. 15. The council also granted approval for DPW Director James Murray and Deputy DPW Director Eric Witte as designee and alternative designee in the DDPW collaboration.

Councilors Suzanne Sareini, David Bazzy, Nancy Hubbard, Robert Abraham and Mark Shooshanian all voted “yes.”

Council President Thomas Tafelski and Councilman Brian O’Donnell did not attend the meeting.

Witte said that in emergency situations a community like Dearborn is a part of a collaboration that could help a community in need.

“If something broke down, we have another community to step in and help,” Witte said.

The DDPW is a part of the Downriver Community Conference, a consortium of about 20 communities, including Dearborn and Dearborn Heights, in which members use joint efforts to discuss public policy at federal, state, regional, county and local levels and establish common goals to benefit the Downriver area and its residents.

A few other community members are Brownstown Township, Riverview, Woodhaven, Melvindale, Romulus and Trenton.

The DDPW also facilitates the collaborations and cost-saving techniques for its member communities, according to its website, www.dccwf.org.

Witte said the DDPW collaboration is nothing new. The DDPW held its first meeting on Dec. 11, 2007.

Witte said the DCC acts as a host for the informal collaboration of DPW directors, who are members of the DCC.

“We meet to discuss areas of mutual interest and concern in reducing expenses, budget staff, joint purchasing and common issues facing all of us,” Witte said. “We are doing more with less.”

Witte said he will not know how many communities signed up for the services collaboration until the next DDPW meeting in February.

“We are not anticipating any reluctance or non-participation from the communities,” Witte said.

Witte said once all the communities approve the services collaboration agreement things will be “business as usual.”

“This has been going on for five years,” Witte said. “We will continue to meet the areas of concern and find common interests in efforts to save money.”

Witte said a couple months ago the DDPW took steps to formalize the agreement by adopting formal bylaws.

The group would review proposals from vendors and obtain bids for various supplies, among other things, Witte said.

“If we all need to buy the same goods and services we get reduced prices for the buying power of a group as opposed to individuals,” Witte said. “Instead of 20 individuals, now only one person is doing it on behalf of the communities.”

DCC Executive Director James Perry said purchasing power is important.

“Before, each community would purchase their own thing,” Perry said. “Now we are purchasing things together, whether it be fuel or shovels. Each community takes the bull by the horn.”

Perry added that the community agreement is no different than a shared mutual aid agreement between police and fire programs.

“All the DPW directors get together and talk about things that may be concerning and try to come up with a solution,” Perry said. “The directors have been terrific. It adds to what the DCC and state have been talking about, working together to make it better for our residents.”

   (Sherri Kolade can be reached at skolade@bewickpublications.com.)

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