Ypsilanti Citizen News Ypsilanti Cycle

City Council approves all mayor's re-appointments
By Dan DuChene
Jun. 16, 2010   ·   3:42 a.m.

Jone Coleman, president of downtown business LookInTheAttic, shares his thoughts with City Council about the discussion and procedure taken to pass mayoral re-appointments, which he was being considered for the Downtown Development Authority.

After much procedure, Ypsilanti City Council approved six mayoral re-appointments to city boards and committees Tuesday, including the two postponed from earlier...read more

Council postpones two reappointments
By Mark Tower
Jun. 4, 2010   ·   4:57 p.m.

Two of Ypsilanti's volunteer board members were not reappointed on schedule Tuesday night, owing to a 4-2 vote by City Council to delay the appointments until...read more

Downtown properties to be rehabilitated
By Mark Tower
Jun. 4, 2010   ·   10:40 a.m.

The three properties located at 120, 122 and 124 West Michigan Avenue in downtown Ypsilanti will soon be rebuilt into commercial and office space and loft apartments, thanks to a planned $1.7 million investment by developers.

Three recently-vacated properties in downtown Ypsilanti, two of them condemned, will soon be renovated owing to recent purchase by a local development company and...read more

Ypsilanti Township authorizes litigation against Liberty Square
By Mark Tower
May. 28, 2010   ·   6:53 p.m.

Many of the homes in the Liberty Square complex on Grove Street in Ypsilanti Township are already boarded and ready for foreclosure sale. All 151 units, some of which are still occupied, will be condemned Tuesday, Ypsilanti Township has resolved.

Residents living in the Liberty Square complex of townhouses will see a sticker appear on their homes Tuesday, when the Ypsilanti Township Building Department places...read more

Ford plant granted tax exemption by township
By Mark Tower
May. 24, 2010   ·   5:44 p.m.

Ford Motor Company's Rawsonville Plan, located at the intersection of Textile and Bridge Roads in Ypsilanti Township, will soon be the new home for production of Ford's Electric Focus batteries, formerly produced in Mexico.

New machines and equipment will soon be wheeled into Ford's Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti Township as it begins manufacturing a line of batteries for the new global...read more

No Ypsilanti firefighter layoffs for two years

Ypsilanti City Council unanimously approved a contract with Ypsilanti firefighters that guaranteed no layoffs in the fire department in exchange for concessions in pay and health care costs. Photo by Dan DuChene

Ypsilanti City Council unanimously approved a contract with Ypsilanti firefighters that guaranteed no layoffs in the fire department in exchange for concessions in pay and health care costs.
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City Council adopts contract to reduce wages, maintain staffing

By Dan DuChene
May. 11, 2010    ·    7:46 p.m.


Updated: May 12, 2010 - 2:38 a.m.

Instead of facing six layoffs in July, firefighters in the Ypsilanti Fire Department are anticipating a five percent wage decrease and higher contributions to health care.

The change is due to an agreement worked out between the firefighters' union, local 401, and city staff; it was unanimously approved by City Council during a budget session held Tuesday.

The three-year contract took 13 months to negotiate, meaning the contract's terms extend from 2009 until 2012. This fiscal year, the firefighters will have no increase in pay. In July, firefighters will see a 5 percent decrease in pay until June 30, 2012.

In addition to the wage reductions, firefighters also agreed to double their contributions to health care costs from wages. The contribution was increased to 2 percent from 1 percent. Firefighters will also have an increase in co-pay.

The city has guaranteed the department will face no layoffs for the length of the contract in response to the firefighters' concessions.

Ken Hobbs, president of the YFD firefighters' union, said he anticipates the wage concessions to save the city approximately $200,000. However, he said the amount is a moving target because it will impact overtime and holiday pay.

The city had hoped to save $440,000 through six layoffs in July. However, Fire Chief Jon Ichesco has said the YFD would then have to rely on mutual aid from surrounding departments to maintain staffing levels to attack structure fires internally.

City Councilmember Pete Murdock, D-Ward 3, called the contract a win-win scenario, as the city was still able to realize savings from the YFD and maintain its current staffing level.

“It was a lengthy process and at times it didn't seem like it was going to happen,” Murdock said. “I'm glad we could avoid the layoffs in this instance for at least a couple years.”

April McGrath, Ypsilanti administrative service director, said the city has initiated cuts before revenues dip below expenses and the city should be able to absorb the difference between the savings anticipated from layoffs, and the savings from the wage reduction can be made up for in other areas of the budget at City Council's discretion.

The firefighters voted on the contract through a three-day vote process that concluded Thursday. After their approval, City Council held a closed session for less than five minutes to consider the contract before the budget meeting scheduled Tuesday. After the meeting came back to order, the resolution was added to the agenda and approved.

Hobbs said he expects to spend an additional $1,000 every year on health care costs due to the new contract. However, he agreed with Murdock's “win-win” comment and said the loss in income is a better alternative to the layoffs.

“We were not just going to lose guys, we were going to lose our ability to fight fires,” Hobbs said.

In response to what Murdock said about the difficulty of getting the agreement negotiated, Hobbs said there were people at the table who thought laying off firefighters was a better scenario than maintaining staffing levels and reducing pay. He would not go into detail about who was against the agreement or what the reasoning behind the argument.

“That was an obstacle,” Hobbs said.

McGrath said the same deal was offered to the bargaining unit for Ypsilanti Police Department officers, but was turned down. She said the offer came after officers had approved a contract in January with five road patrol layoffs, but before City Council approved the contract in February.

Related article:
City eyes 11 layoffs in public safety
Ypsilanti firefighters look to grant to save jobs

Editor's note: This story was updated with comments from Ypsilanti Administrative Service Director April McGrath after the City Council budget meeting Tuesday.



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