Police, fire chiefs present budget at city council meeting

During the city council budget meeting Thursday, Police Chief Tony DeGiusti presented his budget and concerns about equipment and maintenance. DeGiusti also expressed concern about the state of the police building, from things as simple as chipping paint in the stairwell and moisture problems, to issues as serious as possible foundation issues and a lack of ventilation in the evidence processing room. DeGiusti said that the men’s room has had nothing replaced since it was finished in 1955 and “things are falling off the walls.”

“The building was built in 1955, so it’s slightly older than I am,” DeGiusti said.

With City Manager Ralph Lange’s support, DeGiusti wants to build a carport over the police cars in the parking lot to protect them from the elements.

DeGiusti estimated it would cost $28,000 to build a carport

DeGiusti proposed creating an online component to allow residents to report minor crimes or insurance claims and to equip the police with patrol car video. Some Ypsilanti police cars are currently equipped with video, but it is outdated. DeGiusti estimated it would cost $55,000 just to replace the memory cards.

For the sake of cutting costs, DeGiusti recommended equipping officers with body cams, which would accomplish the same thing. The whole system would cost $33,322 for the first year, and $13,344 for the next four years. He also recommended using pre-owned police cars. Traffic enforcement officers use rented cars, for $540 a month, at the moment.

Max Anthouard, the fire chief and acting fire marshal, claimed to make big strides in how the fire department is run in the city. The chief has made an effort to restructure the fire department and his new hires have allowed him to reduce the amount of overtime pay from $240,000 last year to $50,000 this year. Overtime, he said, was down 46.56 percent over the last two pay periods.

However, the department is not staffed enough to do regular follow-ups to fire inspections and, according to Anthouard, the roof of the fire station needs to be replaced. Fixing the roof is projected to cost $70,000.

The city will be applying for another grant from FEMA to purchase a new fire engine, arson van and fire marshal vehicle. Anthouard, surprised by the firehouses electricity bill, also wants to install solar panels to reduce the utility bill in the long run.

Anthouard’s also wants to replace the jaws of life. The jaws of life are hydraulic rescue tools designed to spread apart metal that has been crumpled and twisted in a crash in order to get to and rescue victims.

“Our set of jaws is over thirty years old,” Anthouard said, “It’s been refurbished many times and it just doesn’t work.”

The city council voted to approve the purchase of five new snow plow vehicles at a cost of $581,000. Three of the vehicles will have engines designed to use alternative fuels. The vehicles will be able to use diesel fuel if necessary but are also designed to use propane. Stan Kirton, head of public services, proposed getting propane at a station on Carpenter Road.

“They have yet to get approval from the EPA,” Kirton said.

Councilman Pete Murdoch proposed an amendment to convert all five vehicles to alternate fuels as soon as it becomes available. And both Kirton and Lange said they believed that the EPA would approve the new engines.

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