| 3 min read | from Mayor Shawn Keough |
Dexter Mayor Shawn Keough submitted his report to City Council at their Monday, Aug. 12, meeting. Mayor Keough’s entire report can be found at this link beginning on page 117. Here are the highlights:
Town Hall Meeting on Facilities (City Offices and Fire station Upgrades)
I would like to thank everyone who attended and participated in our second Town Hall meeting on July 31st at the Dexter Library. I thought we had a very good discussion with the residents that attended. The Town Hall meeting began with a brief overview of the recent actions taken by the current Council, and the options currently being considered for City Hall and Fire Station upgrades. The information packet that was distributed at the meeting is attached to my report and can also be accessed at the link below:
The information packet contains a public feedback form and we are encouraging all residents to review the packet and provide input.
The Town Hall meeting was a good opportunity for residents to ask a lot of questions and share their thoughts. The questions and feedback resulted in a solid discussion on the very topics and issues that City Council is currently thinking about. We discussed the potential purchase of the MAVD property, which Council appears ready to complete at the August 12th meeting. We discussed the City’s debt limits and talked about how comfortable people are with whether or not the City should take on a significant amount of debt (approximately $10,000,000) in order to complete the two facility upgrades. The City’s currently has approximately $13,900,000 in available debt that it could issue through a bond sale, if for example the residents voted on a ballot issue to approve this debt. We asked the residents that attended if they felt the options for city offices and fire station upgrades were clear enough for City Council to place a ballot question requesting voter approval on the November 2019 election. The large majority of feedback received at the meeting encourage Council to wait on placing this question before the voters. Most people that commented indicated that they would vote “no” on a ballot question if it were placed before them at this time. They requested that Council continue to work to better define the options. Most people that spoke up also requested that Council find a less expensive way to improve the fire station. My take away is that we need to wait on a ballot question and continue to develop all the potential options that we have available to us.
Looking ahead, City Council will continue to discuss options for improving our city offices and fire station. These two facilities both need upgrades, a point that was affirmed at the Town Hall meeting. We have preliminary cost estimates for various options, but need more detail in order to share the future vision. As a follow up to our preliminary discussion on July 22nd, City council will again be discussing draft ballot language at our meeting on August 12th. It is my hope that we will suspend this discussion and focus on getting more definition on the potential options.
As background, building a new fire station is currently estimated at $7,000,000 (including approximately $600,000 in land cost) vs. the idea of renovating the existing station for approximately half that cost. A new City office is also estimated at between $2,000,000 and $3,000,000, depending on where it would be located. While all of these estimates are preliminary and based solely on concept plans, the idea that the City should spend in the vicinity of $10,000,000 to improve our facilities is still troublesome to me. I believe that there are more efficient ways to accomplish this and the majority of the feedback received at our last Town Hall meeting reflected that sentiment. Early projections are that both improvements could add approximately 3 mills (or more) to City taxes. If you are reading this report, please take time to review the information packet that was shared at the last Town Hall meeting and submit your comments on the feedback form. You can also contact me or any member of Council with your thoughts.
Included in the Consent Agenda is a recommendation to appoint Phil Mekas to the Downtown Development Authority to replace Fred Model, who indicated he needed to resign from the DDA.
Upcoming Union Negotiations
Our current union contact will expire at the end of February 2020. Earlier this week, we sent a letter to our Union Representatives requesting that we sit down to open negotiations for the next contract. In the past, I have participated in this process with the City Manager and another Council member. I will provide more of an update on this process at the City Council meeting, but we hope to meet with the Union in late August to get the process started. We have a good working relationship with our Union and I would like to get this process kicked off.
Have a great week!
Shawn Keough Mayor, City of Dexter, skeough@DexterMI.gov