The Orchard Lake City Council and Police Chief Joe George discussed a trio of topics at a Monday, Sept. 17 council meeting.
The first item was about raising a part-time officer’s pay now that he has gained more experience on the force.
“We started him a little lower and he’s had more time on the job, so it’s more of a level step (pay increase),” George said.
The council voted to increase the officer’s pay from $15 to $16 per hour. Other part-time police personnel earn $18 per hour.
The council also adopted a resolution on the pay scale that tops out part-time compensation at $18 per hour based on experience and length of service.
A discussion was also held on whether six carports should be built on city property to shelter police vehicles. George said extreme heat or cold are not only detriments to the vehicles’ computer systems, but snow and ice delay response times.
“It takes 20 to 40 minutes to clean and thaw the cars. For me, it’s a safety situation,” George said. “We need to protect our equipment and have it available and ready to go when necessary.”
The initiative would cost between $17,000 to $20,000.
However, a city ordinance prohibits carports. If the issue moves forward, a variance would be necessary and approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).
“We had one other request in a commercial area for a carport and it was turned down,” said City Councilwoman Jackie Beach. “If the city decides to go ahead with carports, it must go to the ZBA for a variance.”
The council voiced concern that allowing the carports may open the door for more people to request them, but Beach said George’s request is a valid one.
“We need to do something,” she said. “We looked for space in the municipal garage, but there’s no room and the carports are the least expensive way to go.”
In the interim, the council tabled the issue and formed an ad hoc committee to research the issue. That committee is comprised of City Councilmen Jerry Kosmensky and Norm Finkelstein, both of whom have a construction background. The committee’s findings and recommendations will be brought back to the council next month.
The final issue dealt with police coverage in the city and whether staffing should be increased. Currently there are seven full-time officers, including the chief, and three part-time officers.
“We have reciprocal overage with West Bloomfield and Keego Harbor,” Beach said. “We are augmenting our staff with part-time (personnel), but at what point do we need to add more full-time (officers)?”
She added that changes may be necessary to keep crime rates low.
“We have a very safe community and want to make sure that continues,” Beach said.
The council will be sifting through data and holding ongoing discussions before any decision is reached.