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Special meeting Thursday night: City of CS and Solon Township

Cedar Springs and Solon Township fighting a fire together in Solon Township in February, 2014.

Cedar Springs and Solon Township fighting a fire together in Solon Township in February, 2014.

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs City Council and the Solon Township board will hold a special public meeting on Thursday, December 17, at 7 p.m., at the Solon Township Hall, 15185 Algoma Avenue.

The officials from the two adjoining municipalities are meeting to discuss the findings of the consulting service that did an operational evaluation and shared services study for their two fire departments.

Municipal Consulting Services LLC did the evaluation. They are the same consulting firm that evaluated the Cedar Springs Fire Department in 2009.

The consulting service evaluated each fire department to determine their strengths and weaknesses, and how they can improve. They also evaluated opportunities for the two departments to share resources, including possibly consolidating.

They said that with both communities growing, and already sharing a number of services, such as County dispatch, Rockford ambulance, MABAS automatic aid, the school system, CS Area Parks and Rec, etc., that the fire services should not be segregated between the two communities. They said it could mean full consolidation or something less, such as Solon contracting Cedar Springs to respond to certain areas in Solon Township that lie just outside the Cedar Springs limits.

Other recommendations for shared services include joint master planning by the two fire chiefs (CS Chief Marty Fraser and Solon Chief Jeff Drake); combining some training; joint reviews by command staff of standard operating procedures; grant writing, etc.

The consulting service did not feel that service consolidation would yield a dramatic cost savings, due to the departments being understaffed. But they did say consolidation was feasible, and gave some ideas on what that might look like and what the cost would be.

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