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

YFD nearly ready to collect fees for service

The Ypsilanti Fire Department hopes to generate between $30,000 and $50,000 a year by billing insurance companies for some services in the city starting next month. Photo by Citizen file

The Ypsilanti Fire Department hopes to generate between $30,000 and $50,000 a year by billing insurance companies for some services in the city starting next month.

Chief hopes to begin billing insurance companies next month

By Dan DuChene
May. 5, 2010    ·    12:10 p.m.

After Ypsilanti City Council unanimously approved a fee schedule last month, Ypsilanti Fire Chief Jon Ichesco hopes to collect fees for his department's services in June.

Aimed at services considered beyond the Ypsilanti Fire Department's core duties, the ordinance for the fee was approved by City Council in Oct. 2009 but required a fee schedule before it could be enforced.

Ichesco said he hopes to collect between $30,000 and $50,000 a year for charging fees to insurance companies for services beyond emergency medical and fire responses through hourly costs associated with personnel and equipment costs.

“This is not a tax grab,” Ichesco said. “I'm actually offsetting taxes with it.”

He said the money the YFD receives in taxes should be used by the department for the core services it provides to its citizens. However, he said services like environmental cleanup, vehicle extraction and fire inspection should be covered by the insurance policies of those accruing the cost.

“We shouldn't bill our people for what they're already paying for,” Ichesco said.

The fee schedule approved by City Council charges $450 per hour for a class 1 fire engine or aerial truck, $150 for a support vehicle, $43 for an officer or inspector and $36 per firefighter.

Ichesco said the policy enables him to collect revenue for fire inspection for the first time. The cost for an inspection would only be required for suspicious fires or those that cause more than $10,000 worth of damage. He said the maximum he can bill for an investigation is $500.

Additionally, he said the department would now be able to bill DTE when it has to monitor downed wires in the city that aren't immediately fixed by the company. He said lines can go without attention from DTE for days, which requires him to call firefighters on overtime.

“We keep going back and putting up barrier tape,” Ichesco said. “I can bill them under this ordinance.”

Texas-based Revenue Rescue, LLC will be collecting the fees from insurance companies on behalf of the city. Ichesco said insurance information would be collected at a billable response and forwarded to the company for collection.

Ichesco said he spent a lot of time searching for a qualified billing agent for the city, and found only Revenue Rescue, which contracts with fire departments across the country. He said a one-year tentative contract has been signed with the company, allowing the city to re-evaluate the agreement before renewing a long-term contract.

The company lists Ypsilanti's proposed fee schedule on the low end of what other departments across the country charge. Revenue Rescue lists $600 per class a engine and aerial truck on the high end of the spectrum.

The YFD will become the first department in Washtenaw County to enact such a policy, Ichesco said. However, he named Madison Hieghts, Melvendale and Livonia as other departments in Michigan that bill for some services. He said the language in Ypsilanti's ordinance is being eyed by the department in Las Vegas, Nev.

Related articles:
Fire Department to bill for services
Ypsilanti firefighters look to grant to save jobs

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