A merger of the Ferndale and Hazel Park fire departments would spare three Ferndale firefighters' jobs, but it’s unclear yet whether the two cities will reach an accord.
For now, though, the three firefighter who were scheduled to lose their jobs will be kept on the payroll until June under action taken Monday by the Ferndale City Council, The Daily Tribune reports.
Keeping the three firefighters on the payroll will cost the city $136,000. Four firefighters who were funded under a federal SAFER grant were originally scheduled to be laid off when that funding dried up, but one has left the department.
Ferndale and Hazel Park have had discussions about efficiencies that might be gained by merging the two departments in the past, but the talks have taken on added urgency and Ferndale leaders have pledged to make a final decision in the coming months.
Officials should know by April if a merger is a possibility.
Departments in both cities lack adequate funding to maintain services at current levels, though Ferndale is better positioned financially. For Hazel Park officials, the main difficulty appears to be the millage rate that would be required to support the shared services.
Officials there “are really struggling with what millage their community can support,” Ferndale City Manager April Lynch said.
Ferndale Councilwoman Melanie Piana likened the difficulty the two communities are having in reaching a decision on whether to present a merger to voters to struggles married couples sometimes face.
“ … You can’t make someone marry you,” Piana said. “We are really working hard to make this marriage work. I know we have to step courting, at some point, a city that is not willing to marry us, but that point has not yet come to pass.”