2015-10-29 / Front Page

Authority board to tackle details of police merger

BY LANIA ROCHA
810-452-2652 • lrocha@mihomepaper.com

SWARTZ CREEK and MUNDY TOWNSHIP – A seven-member board will begin setting the groundwork for consolidating the police departments in Swartz Creek and Mundy Township.

By a 5-2 vote, the City Council on Monday approved an agreement establishing a Police Authority Board to negotiate with police unions, create policy, set a budget and hammer out other details.

The authority will function as a separate entity, independent of the communities.

The agreement does not obligate either municipality to proceed with the merger. The city council and township board will take the final vote on consolidation within six months.

“We haven’t merged,” said Councilman Curt Porath. “We haven’t done anything but say, ‘let’s take a look and see if this is going to work.’”

Councilwoman Rae Lynn Hicks and Councilman John Gilbert opposed the agreement.

“The big stumbling block for me is that we just passed a (levy),” Hicks said, referring to the 4.9-mil special assessment the city enacted in December 2013. “I’ll be anxious to see the budget.”

Police Chief Dan Atkinson said the merger is likely to cut costs for both municipalities.

It will also provide more opportunities for officer training and advancement, which Atkinson said is good for morale.

“Your officers are looking forward to this merger,” Atkinson said. “The Swartz Creek and Mundy Township officers are looking at this as a positive.”

The authority board will consist of three appointees from each municipality. Those six will appoint a seventh member who will vote only in the event of a tie. Budget decisions will require five votes.

Porath, Mayor David Krueger and Councilman Dennis Pinkston will represent the city.

Township Clerk Tonya Ketzler, Trustee Kay Doerr and Treasurer Joe Oskey will represent the township. The township board approved the agreement Oct. 12, with Trustee Bill Morey casting the lone dissenting vote.

“I believe this is good for the community,” said Deputy Chief Rick Clolinger. “At the end of the day, this will create a much better police department than we have today.”

Clolinger added several residents are under the impression that the merger has already taken place.

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