City Council Update, July 17, 2023

City Council Update, July 17, 2023

Council approved the purchase of two replacement police cruisers, approved a joint agreement for an officer at the schools, passed the first reading of an ordinance phasing out dog and cat sales, and postponed a decision on an erroneously installed EV charger at Oxford Park.

Public Safety

Public Safety was granted approval for the budgeted replacement of two of their cruisers. Our last replacements were two years ago, and it will likely be two years before we can take possession of these new cars.

A lot of factors go into deciding when to replace cars. Our vehicles have a lot of engine hours on them. When they are needed, they are often driven hard to get to an emergency quickly. Maintenance issues for a specific vehicle are also taken into consideration.

I asked why sometimes it seems like there are a lot of unused cars at the Public Safety building. Cars are frequently tied up at shift changes, so vehicles need to be available for the new officers coming on duty. When we have a major incident or a large event, off-duty officers are often called in and they need vehicles. Finally, there are sometimes cars out for maintenance, so we need a fleet of adequate size to accommodate that.

The city will enter into an agreement with the school district where they pay 75% of a public safety officer's salary for them to be stationed at the schools during the school year. They will have an office in the High School but will visit all of the schools frequently. Our officers already have a presence in all the schools, but this will allow that to increase while the city is compensated for it.

Retail Pet Sales

A resolution was passed requesting the state to pass HB 4838, the "Puppy Protection Bill" which would phase out dog, cat, and rabbit retail sales statewide by July 1, 2025.

Council passed the first reading of a new pet sales ordinance. If it passes the second reading at our August 14 meeting, it becomes law 30 days later.

The prohibition on new stores selling dogs or cats (and now also rabbits) will remain. There are also new provisions that will phase out the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in existing retail locations by July 1, 2025. This date was selected to match the proposed state law.

During this phase-out period, additional regulations will be added to help protect both the animals and consumers. After the phase-out, pet stores will still be able to operate and be profitable much like PetSmart across Woodward in Royal Oak.

Electric Vehicle Charger

Finally, Council is being asked to approve an EV charger at Oxford Park.

The City Manager initially moved forward with this charger without receiving approval from Council. He had thought the approval for the chargers at the library also included this project. That error and other failures in following our procurement process allowed this to slip through until I discovered it after the charger was already installed.

The contractor installed the charger in the wrong location. If Council proceeds, the contractor will fix this at their cost. Other than that, they have already correctly completed most of the work. Since the contractor was not involved with the mistakes in executing our procurement process, they will need to be paid for their work.

There were questions on how much money the city can recoup if the hardware is sold and the project is left unfinished. Those answers were not available, so Council postponed a decision until that information is available from staff.

Were this to happen with nearly any other project, my vote would likely be not to proceed with the project due to the city's current financial situation. However, we charge for EV charger use, so there are revenue opportunities here, as well as a rebate from DTE for its installation. So the answer is not straightforward.

City Manager

The City Manager publicly took responsibility both for the failures that led to the improper EV charger installation, as well as the communication failures that have been a problem over the years. He has made a public commitment to improve. I am hopeful he can fulfill this pledge to make lasting change and re-earn the trust of Council and the community.

Meeting Resources

The meeting packet.