Reporting on the Jan. 4, 2021, Meeting of Saline City Council

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Councillor Dawn Krause sits down for her first Saline City Council meeting. She was elected in the November election.

Notes from the Saline City Council meeting.

Mayor Brian Marl, and Councillors Dawn Krause and Kevin Camero-Sulak participated in person, while Councillors Janet Dillon, Dean Girbach, Jim Dell'Orco and Jack Ceo participated remotely.

State of the City Message

Marl opened the meeting with his State of the City message.

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In his address, he remarked about the unprecedented challenges forced on us by the COVID-19 pandemic, but he said he and his colleagues will "continue to provide" strong and steady leadership during these uncertain times. He said the city will continue to work to strengthen the small business community, calling it the "truck backbone" of the local economy.

Public Comment

Jenn Harmount, of South Monroe Street, said she would be honored to serve on the city's Environmental Commission.

Consent Agenda

Mayor Marl moved to approve the amended consent agenda, removing an item on appointments to boards and commissions. The motion was carried unanimously. Within the consent agenda, assistant city manager Mike Greene was appointed as interim DPW director. Prior to the meeting Mayor Marl indicated the city has made identifying a wastewater treatment and water production superintendent the immediate priority. He expects a permanent DPW Director in place by mid-year.

Appointments to Boards and Commissions

Each year, Mayor Marl appoints council members to boards and commissions. At the advice of attorney Steve Girard, another council member was added to the committee overseeing labor negotiations. Marl will be the liaison for negotiations with public safety unions and Councillor Dean Girbach will be the liaison for negotiations with the DPW/clerical and utilities workers. The motion was carried unanimously.

The appointments are as follows. Marl will service on the Celtic Festival Committee, labor committee,  Michigan Municipal League delegate, Planning Commission, Saline Area Fire Executive Board, Saline Area Citizens Executive Board, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, Special Projects Commission, WATS Policy Committee. 

Counciillor Kevin Camero-Sulak will serve on the Arts & Culture Committee and Saline Youth Council. Councillor Girbach will serve on the Business Development Association, the Planning Commission, the Sauk Trail Business Park Development Committee, and the Special Projects Commission. Councillor Janet Dillon will serve on the Local Access Cable Television Commission, the Parks Commission, Michigan Municipal League Delegate (alternate), Parks Commission, Saline Area Fire Board, Sustainability Circle delegate and WATS Policy Committee alternate. Councillor Jack Ceo will serve on the Zoning Board of Appeals, alternate to SEMCOG and the Cemetery Board of Appeals. Councillor Jim Dell'Orco will serve on the Code Review Task Force, the Environmental Commission, and alternate to the Saline Area Fire Executive Board. Dawn Krause will serve on the Historict District Commission, the River Raisin Watershed Counci and is an alternate to the Sustainability Circle.

Mayor Pro-Tem

Council voted to once again name Dean Girbach as Mayor Pro-Tem. Jack Ceo was named Presiding Officer in the event neither GIrbach or Marl are in attendance. The main job of Mayor Pro-Tem is to run the meeting when the Mayor is absent.

Former Mayor Gretchen Driskell often changed Mayor Pro-Tems each year. Marl said he's found it helpful for the city and his office to have someone in the position for more than one year.

"Mayor Girbach has done an exceptional job and he has served this city with a lot of tenacity over the course of three decades," Marl said.

Councillor Krause asked Marl how the candidate was chosen. Marl said it was the description of the Mayor and said he had three factors, including a vision and commitment to improving the quality of life in Saline, an understanding of the function  and operations of the city, and, Marl said:

"Third, and most importantly,is, if God forbid, I became incapacitated or unable to serve, could this person step into the job as Mayor, as seamlessly as possible, and provide a decent enough service until the next election," Marl said.

Girbach said he was "honored to serve again."

The motion passed unanimously.

Commission, Committee and Task Force Reports

Camero-Sulak said the Arts & Culture Committee is choosing a new logo and inviting people to vote. The DEI Task Force will continue to meet twice a month.

Girbach said the Risk Management Task Force was completing interviews.

Reports and Other Announcements

Krause said she was glad to be elected.

Camero-Sulak welcomed Krause to the council table and said he was looking forward to working with her, the new city manager and council and making great strides this year.

Girbach said he was looking forward to resolving the EGLE Administrative Consent Order for wastewater treatment plant's environmental violations.

Dillon and Dell'Orco also welcomed Krause to council.

Marl said the downtown holiday decorations, many of which were donated by the Miller family, will be removed next week. He also said due to an absence in the office, some of the citizen appointment to committees and commissions were not included in this week's agenda packet. Marl invited city residents to visit the city website and apply to join city commissions/committees.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Update

City Manager Colleen O'Toole thanked council for the formation of an ad-hoc committee that should result in a significant increase in information to immediate changes the public can expect to see at the plant. She echoed Girbach's comments about resolving the legal issue with the wastewater treatment plant and said she was looking forward to communicating definitive information about the next steps at the plant.

Councillor Dillon noted "considerable odor" in the area and asked what steps the city is taking to solve the issue.

O'Toole said recent odor issues were likely caused by a need to bypass a pump. She said it appears progress has been made on the issue as there's less sludge in the clarifiers. She said the bypass was a temporary solution.

Public Comment

There were no citizen comments.

Closed Session

Council voted to discuss issues away from public scrutiny to discuss legal issues with EGLE, and to discuss a legal opinion on a matter with E&L Construction Group, the Flint firm contracted to complete the odor control system in April of 2016.

Council voted 7-0 to go into closed session. (Note: Girbach for many meetings had voted "no" about going into closed session, saying privileged information was being leaked. Now, with former Councillor Christen Mitchell no longer on the council, Girbach is once again voting "yes" on going into closed session.)

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