Police-fire issue sparks debate


Staff Writer

KINGSFORD – The proposed consolidation of Iron Mountain and Kingsford’s police and fire services continues to be a hot topic, and members of the Kingsford City Council addressed the issue once again during their Monday meeting.

This time, a heated discussion revolved around a consolidation proposal that council member Brian Smeester had written and distributed to both Iron Mountain and Kingsford officials.

In the proposal, Smeester detailed a potential make-up of the consolidated public safety authority, by-laws, budget information, and ballot language for residents to vote on.

Council member Michael Flaminio felt that the proposal had multiple flaws. He pointed out that it contained an unclear budget and no flow chart.

Furthermore, Flaminio thought that Smeester had acted inappropriately by distributing material to Iron Mountain officials without the consent of the Kingsford city manager or council.

“I’m very offended by this entire document,” he added.

Council member Cynthia Dixon-Miller noted that Smeester did not write the majority of the proposal himself, and that he used paper from city hall to make copies of the proposal.

Flaminio made a motion to ban Smeester from attending public safety committee meetings or having unauthorized contact with the Iron Mountain City Council.

The motion died for lack of support.

Smeester argued that he is representing the interests of Kingsford residents.

“I can talk to anybody I want to about anything,” he said. “I will not ever stop talking about it.”

“Put it on the ballot and let the people decide,” Smeester added.

Flaminio agreed that the people should decide, but he thought that there first needs to be a clear proposal to vote on.

Sgt. Brian Metras, who represents the officers’ union of the Kingsford Public Safety Department, supported Flaminio’s opinion that the citizens need to be educated before they vote.

“Consolidation talks are in the inception stages,” he said. “You’re putting the cart before the horse.”

In other business, the council:

– Approved a resolution stating that the city will share maintenance costs with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) for the three traffic lights in Kingsford. The traffic lights are located at Woodward Avenue, East Boulevard, and Breitung Avenue.

City Manager Tony Edlebeck said that the resolution is a new requirement from the state. The total cost for each light per year is estimated at $800, which Kingsford will split 50/50 with MDOT.

– Approved a resolution that the city is in compliance with Public Act 152. The act requires local governments to pay no more than 80 percent of employees’ health insurance.

– Agreed to purchase a half-page color advertisement in the Dickinson Area Partnership’s 2013-2014 directory at the cost of $450.

– Agreed to purchase an advertisement in the 2013 Upper Peninsula Track Meet program. The meet will take place at Flivver Field on June 1.

– Authorized council members and the city manager to attend the Region 7 Michigan Municipal League annual education summit on June 14 an 15 in Bessemer. Cost is $45 per person.

– Accepted a letter from Lt. William Burby of the Kingsford Public Safety Department announcing his retirement.

– Announced that the city offices will be closed on Monday for Memorial Day. Also due to the holiday, garbage collection will take place from Tuesday through Friday instead of Monday through Thursday.

Nikki Younk’s e-mail address is nyounk@ironmountaindailynews.com.