Saugatuck & Douglas Officials Open Door To Possible Public Works Merger
It’s all preliminary and informal at this time, but the merging of the departments of public works from the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas seems more of a possibility following Monday night’s meeting where Douglas City Council members said they were open to discussing the matter with their counterparts.
“I am glad you guys started the conversation. I, for one, think it should be pursued,” Saugatuck Council Member Lisa Greenwood told her counterpart Saugatuck Council Member Barry Johnson after he spoke before the Douglas council on Monday.
“The mayor may or may not decide to put an ad hoc together, but I’ve wanted to let you know that,” said Johnson about his and his colleagues’ future plans.
The ad hoc committee is the brainchild of Johnson himself.
Also on Monday, Jim Wiley and Martha Hoexter were re-elected mayor and mayor pro tem, respectively. The person filling the seat of mayor pro tem acts in place of the mayor whenever the mayor is not present.
“We have lots going on and we can now focus going forward and not have distractions,” said Wiley referring to the recent referendum on the November 5 election concerning the proposed consolidation of Saugatuck and Douglas that was defeated by voters of both municipalities.
Wiley said while he did not favor consolidation of the cities , he does support consolidation of their public works departments.
He opened the meeting with the following comment, “I am proud to announce we have remained independent.”
He then presented a small paper sign (or sticker) with a humorous text: “The City of Douglas,” underneath which read, “The Beverly Hills of Saugatuck.”
The idea of merging the public works departments has been ongoing now for more than five years and gained momentum during the events related to the cities’ proposed consolidation, said Johnson.
Joined by the bridge and the Kalamazoo Harbor, the towns share police, fire, water, sewer, library and transit services. The only major service the municipal neighbors don’t share is public works departments.
“We could improve our…equipment purchases; we could compliment our equipment rather than duplicate it,” Wiley said in support of the public works proposal.