At the Feb. 8 meeting of the Grand Rapids City Council, two department heads updated officials on the status of their respective departments.
City Administrator Tom Pagel kicked off the discussion by talking about some of his department’s accomplishments for 2015, which included the development of an outcome goals process for the city council, assisting the Recreation Department in developing a financial model to improve budgets, and the completion of an active living center with YMCA/ElderCircle, which serves about 1,400 users daily.
Pagel said that his department had five primary goals for 2016. Those goals are:
• Leading the effort in achieving the Council’s 21 Outcome Goals for 2016.
• Updating the compensation study in preparation for labor negotiations in 2017.
• Formalizing a legislative workflow process.
• Continuing to explore collaboration opportunities with other local units of government.
• Conducting the 2016 primary and general election.
Pagel concluded his remarks by outlining the city’s legislative agenda. The city has made two bonding requests: The Mississippi River pedestrian bridge north of the library, and improvements to the IRA Civic Center. Pagel said that the city was asking the state legislature for about one-half of the Civic Center’s $4 million remodeling price tag.
Fire Chief Mike Liebel presented the report for the Fire Department and began by addressing personnel issues. There were four retirements in 2015 with a combined total of 75 years of service. Liebel added that 19 of the remaining 30 members have less than 10 years of service, adding that his department is “very young.”
The level of experience presented some difficulties because, “With young people you have families and it’s tougher to draw those people when we need them,” the fire chief said. “That just shows what kind of dedication we have from our people. I can’t speak enough for what we have over there.”
Liebel also spoke about 2015 in terms of equipment, calling it “The year of the breakdown.” A council approved purchase of a hose tester, however, was taking some of the pressure off of the trucks by reducing the amount of time the pumps had to work.
Liebel concluded his remarks by discussing the department’s workload. The department received 240 calls for service in 2015, 167 of which required a full department response. The fire chief said that the department only received 138 calls in 2014 but didn’t have an explanation for the increase in 2015.
In other business, the council:
• Authorized the mayor to sign a lease agreement with Cannon Financial Services for a Cannon color copier at the library.
• Authorized the Grand Rapids Police Chief to sign an agreement with the city of Minneapolis to query the Automated Property System (APS) database.
• Appointed five additional part-time security officers at the hospital. Positions are to be fully funded by the hospital.
• Approved the verified claims for the time period of Jan. 20 to Feb. 1 in the amount of $419,983.76.