Dearborn City Council Discusses Farmers Market, Changes to Public Works, Claims Payments
The council's Monday night meeting included approval of the farmers market and changes to the job structure of the DPW, as well as approval of more than $74,000 in claims payments.
A regular meeting of the Dearborn City Council took place Monday at City Hall. Several issues were discussed and voted on, including several settlements the city is paying out, the city’s costs for the upcoming Dearborn Farmers Market and changes in the structure of the Department of Public Works. Here’s a recap of what took place.
Mayor Seeks to Form Environmental Commission
An ordinance was introduced that would create an Environmental Commission “that would help the city with environmental and sustainable issues,” explained Council President Tom Tafelski. Mayor Jack O’Reilly proposed the idea of the nine-member advisory commission, which would discuss issues related to such things as recycling and citywide green initiatives.
City Approves $74,000 in Claim Payments
The City Council approved three resolutions to resolve separate claims filed by residents and business owners, totaling more than $74,000.
The first was for $50,000 to be paid to residents Joseph and Lonnie Padesky, whose home was flooded during work being done on one of the city’s CSO sewer separation projects. “There was an error that occurred and … the city went out after a time and realized that the basement had backed up,” Tafelski said.
The second was for $8,475.10, to be paid to Nigosian Rugs owners George and Karen Nigosian, who experienced flooding in the basement of their business three times due to illegal grease dumping by a nearby restaurant.
According to Tafelski, the issue arose when the city switched over to the separated sewer and water lines, causing grease to build up instead of being washed away by storm water. All of the businesses were able to present evidence that they are disposing of grease in the proper way, so the city installed cameras in the lines to see where the built-up grease is coming from.
“This is a compliance issue,” Mayor O’Reilly said. “What we’re doing is, because we can photograph the inside, we are now going in and we can see where the grease is coming in to that pipe, from which business, and they’re being cited and they’re being required to address it.”
The third was for $16,000, to be paid to resident Fatwan Munaser to reimburse him for a vacant lot the city sold him.
Munaser, Tafelski explained, was told that he could build on the property. However, it was found that a sewer line ran directly underneath the property and thus, it could not be built on. Another $4,000 is being paid to Munaser by the title company, which assumed partial responsibility for the misinformation.
Fees Increased for Several Services
A resolution was approved to increase fees for obtaining birth and death records from the city clerk’s office to $20 for the first certified copy and $5 for each additional copy. “This will also help the clerk recover the costs they currently incur,” Tafelski said.
The increase is one of a number of fees the city looked at. Also approved was an increase in license fees.
DPW Job Shift Approved to Avoid Layoffs, Retrain Workers
Four resolutions were approved that, collectively, change job classifications in Dearborn’s Department of Public Works. The measure is designed to avoid laying off employees in the department and instead train them to work on the Combined Sewer Overflow projects.
Councilwoman Susan Sareini questioned the timing of the changes, which Mayor O’Reilly explained has to do with retaining employees and avoiding layoffs while still saving the city money overall.
“We’re creating fewer positions, which is good, but we’re moving people into positions that we are going to retain and that frees them up so instead of having layoffs, people will be transferred to jobs that we are going to be required to retain going forward with CSOs,” he said.
“They’re going to have to learn new skills to do this,” he added. “We would have had to hire people to do this job and we think it’s better for our employees and better for everyone to take these employees and retrain them for new jobs.”
DPW Director James Murray added that using existing employees to operate the five CSO facilities is actually saving the city 20 percent over what it would have cost to hire new employees.
“This allows us to use our own staff,” Murray said. “We competitively asked for outside prices and we’re beating the private sector.”
Mayor: Farmers Market Less Costly than Arab Festival, Homecoming
The Dearborn Chamber of Commerce’s Farmer’s Market was approved to begin operation on May 27–but not without Councilman Robert Abraham questioning the city’s willingness to provide police and public works services to this event while just last week, the Arab American Chamber of Commerce was told that the city may not be able to afford costs incurred from the annual Arab International Festival and thus, it may have to be canceled this year.
“Given the analysis we just did for the Homecoming and the Warren Avenue festival, are we treating the costs for this in the same fashion?” he asked.
“We have very limited costs for this because the barricades are the only issue we have,” O’Reilly explained. “We set up the barricades and take them down during regular hours, so there’s no extra costs or no overtime at all in this.”
Parking spaces are also given up for the vendors and parking at the two gated lots near the market is set at a flat fee of $1, but the losses in parking fees are minimal, he added.
The Farmers Market will run Fridays from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. until October 28.
Firefighters to Hold Boot Drive
A resolution was passed to allow the Dearborn firefighters union to conduct their annual Fill the Boot campaign from June 8-15 to raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The fund-raiser will involve firefighters soliciting donations on the streets of Dearborn on those days.