City Task Forces Look at Citizen Services, Rec Center and Cemetery

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 04/04/2013 - 01:21


Saline City Councilor David Rhoads will lead a new task force charged with surveying community resources and creating a list that can be used by the less fortunate when they are in need.

The Resident Support Services Task Force was one of three task forces commissioned at Monday night’s city council meeting. City council also re-commissioned the Oakwood Cemetery Task Force and the Rec Center Sustainable Task Force. The city also appointed members to an ad hoc committee that will study the proposed consolidation of Saline Area Schools Community Education with the City of Saline Parks and Recreation.

Creating the task forces makes good on a promise Mayor Brian Marl made in his first State of the City speech.

“In keeping a promise I made in the State of the City address, we will create one new task force and convene two existing task forces,” Marl said.

The Resident Support Services Task Force sprung from an idea offered by Rhoads during the December 2012 goals and strategy session. Marl and Rhoads worked together on finding a concise mission for the task force.

Rhoads will chair the task force. He’ll be joined by Mickie Jo Bennett (City Treasurer), Pastor Ian Reed-Twiss (representing churches), Rina Chemi (representing the senior center), Don Dersnah (representing Saline Area Social Service) and social worker Joel Benedek (representing Saline Area Schools).

Rhoads said the seeds for the commission were planted last year when council talked about whether or not residents were aware of the various agencies and organizations that provide help.

“It was apparent that while there are a fair number of resources, they are not all in the same place, and they are not easily determined by those in need,” Rhoads said. “When the Mayor asked me to chair the task force, I said I would be glad to do it.”

The task force will survey the available resources, determine the criteria for accessing the resources, and then complete a document that will be made available to the public in printed form and online, Rhoads said.

Marl was pleased with the makeup of the task force.

“I think Mr. Rhoads did an outstanding job choosing members for the task force. They represent a broad array of constituencies in the community,” Marl said.

The Oakwood Cemetery Task Force was originally commissioned by former Mayor Gretchen Driskell in 2010 to look at capacity issues in the cemetery while developing strategies to make the cemetery economically sustainable and to keep the cemetery aesthetically appealing.

Marl said the re-commissioned task force will also focus on capital improvements. Membership of the task force remains largely unchanged. Marl will be chair of the task force. He’s joined by Mayor Pro-Tem Linda TerHaar, City Councilor Jim Roth, City Manager Todd Campbell, City Clerk Dianne Hill, Deputy Clerk Aimee Rutledge and City Engineer/Superintendent Gary Roubal.

In 2010, former Mayor Driskell commissioned the Rec Center Sustainability Task Force to assist Rec Center staff in developing policies and strategies to increase membership and stabilize the operation’s finances.

The board will be chaired by City Manager Campbell. Also serving are Mayor Marl, Councilor Dean Girbach, Parks and Recreation Director Carla Scruggs, resident Dianne Waterhouse, and another resident to be named at a later date.

Marl said adding two private citizens to the committee should add a fresh perspective to the process.

Girbach agreed, but asked why private citizens weren’t added to the cemetery task force.

Marl said the last task force worked so well that he did not wish to change the mix too much.

City Council also approved Marl’s recommendations for the ad hock group which will study the proposed consolidation of Community Education and Parks and Recreation. Mayor Marl and Mayor Pro-Tem TerHaar will serve on the group. Councilor Girbach serves as an alternate. School board will also appoint two members. Staff from the school district and city will sit on the committee. 

The ad hoc group should report to city council and school board by mid-summer.

The city and school district asked Plante Moran to study opportunities for shared services and savings. The study suggested there may be $200,000 in savings annually by consolidating the departments. Such a move, however, faces several legal, political and financial hurdles.

Tran Longmoore's picture
Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore is a veteran community journalist. He is founder and owner of He is co-publisher of The Saline Post weekly newspaper. Email him at [email protected] or call him at 734-272-6294.

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