About Me

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I currently serve as the mayor of the City of Milan. I feel transparency and open government are important to a thriving democracy. I invite you to post questions or comments ---if you have any ideas about things you'd like me to discuss, relating to the City of Milan, this blog is a great place to exchange ideas. You must include your name, (first and last) and town to have your comments posted here.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Let’s all step back for a second

The Milan City Council has opened a debate on how the current Milan Area Fire Department should be managed. This is a public policy debate. There are many questions, and there are many different scenarios that must be considered before any decision should be made.

There will always be fire service here in this community. Always. No one on the city council is suggesting leaving any of the townships out, and those who tell you different are misinformed or have misunderstood our goal.

I believe it is possible to provide fire service to the same exact area that is currently served by the MAFD; but under the sole ownership of the City of Milan as the only discernible difference.

The city's insurance carrier has assured us, that if the city has its own fire department, our ISO rating will either stay the same, or most likely, most likely go UP.

Yes—if the city of Milan has its own fire department, Milan city residents are likely to experience a reduction in their home insurance rates. This is because one of the most important factors in this determination is distance from the fire station, (among other values.)

It seems possible to do this, while at the same time operating at the same high standards the current MAFD provides, yet at a lower cost to the Milan taxpayers and most likely, townships as well.

It seems possible to do this. It SEEMS possible. Holding this discussion at council work sessions, and thoroughly researching every aspect of this issue is the only way to know for sure if it IS possible.

Under the current model, each township is also struggling to afford this service. From the beginning of this discussion it was never my intent to give the impression that we have no interest in providing fire protection to the townships that we share fire service with now.

We know for sure, that one or more of the co-owning townships have also initiated exploring withdrawing from the MAFD—knowing this, we must ensure we have a back-up plan for our fire service and not be left unprepared. This is an important point to remember when entering into this public policy debate. This is possibly the most important point to keep in mind.

I believe it MAY be possible to continue the same service at a cost savings to all involved. Right now we are in the beginning phase of exploring this idea.

I urge everyone to ask questions before making blind accusations or jumping to any rash conclusions about the future of our fire service.

I realize the citizens of Milan, and the nearby townships, want the best quality fire safety they can have.  However, these same citizens want to keep their taxes under control.  I believe this is possible-- we can reduce the taxpayer burden without raising fire insurance rates or interfering with fire safety.

While I completely understand that this is a highly emotional issue, I urge everyone to please take a step back with me and look at the bigger picture as we openly discuss this issue.




  1. Mayor Kym,

    While I am somewhat impressed that you are now "allowing", what seems to be, ALL posts to your blog; the fact that you censored many before cause me to question your ability to "openly discuss this issue".

    You have stated that 'one or more' of the co-owning townships are looking into other options and your motivation in all of this controversy is to have a back up plan, IF and when this takes place. Forgive me if this offends, but in watching the council meeting you supported far more than "a back up plan". You were all for writing a letter and acting on it immediately!

    Please tell me, what exactly would take place IF one, (or more), of the townships were to withdraw from the MAFD? What would that mean for our fire department? I do not understand much of what is being suggested, but one thing seems quite clear.

    You politely ask that citizens consider this plan of yours, yet you ignore that a big majority of them clearly are NOT on board with this idea. Perhaps it is YOU that should take a "step back" and rethink what you've started!

  2. That is true, I did support drafting the letter of withdrawal; that is because I felt it important to protect our interests, and keep our options open. Although I do completely understand the other side of the argument, I voted what I thought was right, despite how unpopular it was/is.

    After everything that's been in the newspapers (including this blog,) it just seems insincere not to send the letter. But I also completely understand the arguments for NOT sending the letter, and it was voted down and I'm done arguing about that. The council voted it down and I accept that decision.

    As far as your advice that perhaps I should take a step back and rethink what I've started--all I've started is a public policy debate. It sounds like what you might be suggesting is that I just stop the debate because people don't like that we are talking about this.

    I don't think you would really want your local government to make its decisions based on who can be the meanest and the loudest--that would be living under a kind of "mob rule" mentality. Nobody wants that.

    I really think forming the citizens advisory committee, including some opposing positions, and thoroughly investigating this issue before reaching a decision is the right way to go about this, even though it's very uncomfortable. Don't think for a minute that I'm having a great time getting everyone all upset. I'm not.

    But I do think we need to thoroughly look at this whole issue, taking out the emotion and then once we have all our facts in front of us, make a sound decision based on facts, not on emotion.

  3. You forgot to answer my question...What would happen if one of the townships withdrew? What would that mean for our fire department as it stands now? I honestly do not know!

    Also, I was wondering why you didn't say hello when we ran into each other at Jet's Pizza in Saline!!

  4. Hi Gina,
    Sorry it took me so long to get back to you on this last comment. It is a good question. And it's hard to answer right here. Basically---we have an intergovernmental contract with the other 3 municipalities, and the contract outlines how and what we do in the event that one of the parties wants to withdraw. The withdrawing party would take with them, their percentage of all of the assets and total budget etc...but there is a 5 year payment plan with interest caveat--the entire process takes a year, as stipulated in the contract. Throughout that year all four parties would likely negotiate the separation agreement.
    As far as seeing you at Jet's Pizza!! I was at Jet's Pizza and as I was walking out were you walking in? I thought you looked familiar! Sorry I didn't say hi. You should've said something! I've only seen you a couple of times at council meetings--and that was from a distance. I remember you have dark hair and you wore it up--didn't mean to be rude though. Next time please stop me!

  5. Okay, I heard that all before from the council meeting...bottom line...you want to be 'prepared' if another township withdraws...prepared for what? How would it ultimately affect our fire department as it stands right now, if that happened? Why must we consider withdrawing 'first'? Sorry, I just don't get it...

  6. Prepared: make sure we have a plan to continue providing uninterrupted fire protection to our residents.

    How it would ultimately affect our fire department is a question that we are attempting to find answers to, by going through this process of research, discussion and debate.

    We did not consider withdrawing first. London Twp initiated discussions to withdraw a full six weeks before we did---when we found out that they were initiating a process, we initiated the same process.

    If you send me your email, I will email you the minutes from London Twp, confirming this.

    As far as York Twp goes, they are not on the formal record as wanting to withdraw, but they have given a significant amount of MAFD fire district to the Saline FD without board approval, which has hurt the MAFD financially, the Saline FD is now a full time FD, and they have moved their dispatch out of the police dept and centralized it, so these moves also give us reason to believe they have a Saline FD preference.

  7. Again Mayor Kym, I ask that you be patient with me...my ignorance in this matter is obvious to say the least...however, I must ask once more, what "options are kept open" by Milan's withdrawing from the MAPD? I do not dispute that what you say is true, that London Twp initiated discussion to withdraw prior to Milan...I'm just not sure why their actions caused the same for Milan. Please just make it 'simple' for my sake...perhaps there are others like me who don't understand...BUT, let's say that London Twp withdraws from MAPD and Milan changes nothing...what happens then?....my email is michikeen@yahoo.com and you're welcome to use it anytime!

  8. Hi Gina,
    This is a difficult question to answer with any definite specificity. You are asking me a "what would happen if..." type question which is asking me to predict with accuracy, exactly what would happen. I can't do that! My best answer, and most accurate, and "simple" (LOL) is to tell you that there are these "processes" in place for if an entity withdraws. Depending on which entity withdraws will affect the remaining three in very different ways. Example: City of Milan owns the biggest share--so if the city pulls out and the other three remaining entities decide they want to keep the MAFD together, then they each now would have to pay the city its 41 or 42 percent slice of the entire "pie"--and then they would now have to divide the remaining smaller "pie" (the MAFD budget, assets, equipment, bills, obligations) among the three of them--their percentages would then be higher.
    If an entity that owns a smaller "slice" (percentage) of the "pie," that would affect the remaining three entities in a different way than if a larger slice of the pie were to withdraw. Again--I can't predict what decisions the other entities would make.
    But the options would be to either keep the MAFD together and continue on as a smaller FD---or dissolve the MAFD and figure out a new way to provide fire protection.
    The remaining three entities could decide to dissolve the MAFD and seek out fire coverage either from the city or some other entity. I don't know a lot about the dissolution process, but I believe the way that works is each entity takes their share (percentage) of the "pie" and figures out some other way to provide fire protection.
    My goal is to come up with feasible scenarios or back up plans for how to continue providing fire protection no matter what takes place. And that's what I mean by being prepared.
    The other municipalities may not want to continue the FD no matter which one pulls out---because the townships do not have a lot of money and may not be able to pay the higher percentage once someone leaves and takes their "slice" of the entire FD pie.
    OR they may want to. I have no way of knowing at the moment what they would want to do.
    I do know this: if the city were to own the MAFD and keep it going similar to how it operates now, it would still be a great service, and a good investment on the city's part. It would not be profitable for several years, but I do believe over a period of maybe 6-10 years it would be profitable--I do not know what options the remaining entities would want to take. I don't know if they would each form their own respective fire depts, or if they would contract with neighboring fire depts that near them--both London and Milan townships are near other municipalities that have fire depts and perhaps they would work something out with them. York is also a member of the Saline Area Fire Department and would MOST LIKELY, (this is a guess on my part) go with the Saline Fire Dept.
    OR they might ask us to provide fire to them, in which case we would negotiate some sort of terms for how we would do that.
    So, this is a really long message but I'm trying to convey that I really do not know the exact answer to your questions, but I do know that we have built in processes in place via our MAFD contract which would be followed. The city has created a process for figuring out what our options would be and that's through that citizens advisory fire committee. Last night we had our first meeting--and I am confident that if we follow the process that we've created for the committee to follow then the best decision and best answer will be reached by following that process. It is methodical, logical, fair and well thought out. I am sure we will figure out all of this stuff and the answers to most of your questions by following the process.

  9. As a new Milan city resident I am just starting to get in to Milan politics. One question, its my assumption from researching ISO ratings, that the price of insurance is based on where the station is located, and how fast the Fire Department can get water to the scene.

    How are insurance rates going to go down by switching to a city owned Department? I'm assuming that you would use the same building as a fire station because its already in the city limits, and the city already has hydrants.

    Unless the city changes those things, which it can't, I don't see how your plan could lower my insurance rates.

    New to the whole blog thing I might not be posting my name and city, but my name is John McKenzie, and I live in the City of Milan.

  10. Hi John,
    One of the policy alternatives we are looking at is cross-training our current Milan Police Officers to be Public Safety Officers. As part of ISO ratings, they take into consideration whether or not your fire station is "staffed" and in our case, if this policy alternative became a reality, the rating agency may look kindly on the fact we would have one or two certified firefighters working 24/7, even if they had to be supplemented with paid-on-call firefighters as well.

  11. Wouldn't the city have to staff more police officers if that happens? I don't know how many officers are on duty at any given time but given that this is a small city there cant be many. Going on that assumption if the police officers are on fire related scene how can they leave to do police related things? If they are at a medical call they just can't leave a patient to go on police emergency.

    Are the police officers willing to be cross trained? Wouldn't they want to be paid more to do 2 jobs, thus negating the cost saving to the city?

  12. The answer to that question is probably yes there would be an increased cost to run a public safety dept. That "model" is only one of several different options we are looking at. We are also looking at keeping the current model, as is, but managing it ourselves, or having what's called an "administrative" public safety dept., which means the fire dept, and the police dept, would continue as separate entities, with their own respective chiefs, but would be overseen by one dept head--probably our city administrator. There are pros and cons to every option we are looking at. There are pros and cons to maintaining the status quo. The purpose of this entire exercise is, we want to improve and manage this service in the best possible way for our residents. In answer to your question about how the police officers feel--generally they are willing to take on the extra training but also are concerned about the number of personnel we'd need to continue running the police dept.I have formed a citizens advisory committee that includes two of our police staff who are certified fire fighters, our current fire chief, a resident whose husband just retired from the Milan Area Fire Dept, a former MAFD fire chief, a former Milan mayor, our city administrator, our police chief and myself. The first meeting was held last Thursday, and we will meet again on May 20. We have created a very thorough process for researching and evaluating the options before us. Several members of the committee are there because they oppose making any changes to our fire service whatsoever, and I felt their input would be valuable because they will have a different perspective and be able to think of things I would not think of because of their different insights. Your questions are good but we are already asking ourselves those same questions, which is why we are following a methodical process for determining the best option for our city residents.