Saugatuck Township Fire Chief Greg Janik Receives Kudos From Douglas Mayor
To the delight of Douglas city taxpayer representatives, Saugatuck Township Fire District’s budget for next fiscal year, unlike the two previous years, does not entail a tax increase, remaining at 1.7 mills for services.
“Kudos for no increase in the millage,” Douglas Mayor Jim Wiley told Saugatuck Township Fire District Chief Greg Janik at Monday’s council meeting where the chief presented—and council approved—the 2016-17 budget of $743,000.
“We are finally staffed to where I feel comfortable,” said Janik. Serving a population of some 5,000 in the cities of Saugatuck, Douglas and Saugatuck Township, the department has .95 staff per capita, meaning 4.75 full-time firefighters, notes Janik.
The budget was also approved by the City of Saugatuck last week and was expected to be approved by Saugatuck Township at Wednesday night’s meeting.
Trends show the department has increasing costs, but Janik said he has an aggressive grant program and cost recovery program to offset some of them.
Also, I think one of the things that keeps us going are the property values. The values are just off the roof,” said Janik.
While the department has seen a decrease in fire calls, it has experienced a 57 percent increase in total calls, partly coming as a result of an aging population and the department responding to emergency medical service calls and calls labeled “other.”
The latter has seen a significant increase, 211 percent, and constitutes such things as false alarms, traffic control, etc.
In other fire department news, the Douglas City Council Monday, with regret, accepted the resignation of Hank Zavislak from the fire board. Zavislak represented Douglas on the board along with still-active member Gerald Bekken.
In his resignation letter, Zavislak highlighted many of the positives: Chief Janik, professional command officers, the hydrant identification program, upgrade of safety equipment for the protection of firefighters, and so on.
“However,” Zavislak wrote in his April 15 letter to the Douglas City Council, “It has become clear that I have significant differences regarding board governance, board planning and budgeting matters. I do not see a way of reconciling those difference in the near future.”
Wiley summarized the council’s response to Zavilak’s decision, saying, “This is a terrible loss for Douglas. He has done an incredible job.”