Taylor’s mayor says he’s willing to go to jail over the fight for $8.1 million dollars.
The Taylor City Council and Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand have been at odds over the money, which is a federal grant, that would go towards the city’s fire department to reinstate a handful of firefighters.
Lamarand says the city can’t afford to pay the firefighter’s pensions and benefits and that hiring the firefighters back now with the federal tax money will only delay the problem.
The council has argued the mayor needs to accept the grant to solve the immediate safety issue and keep the firefighters on board. Council members adopted a resolution to accept the grant and took the mayor to court when he refused the money.
A Wayne County Circuit Court judge ruled last month that Lamarand must go along with City Council and take the money. Lamarand has until midnight Tuesday to sign off on it or face contempt of court.
But in a statement early Tuesday, Lamarand said he could not “consciously or willingly accept money that is funded by tax dollars, to spend in a manner that is absolutely unnecessary.”
He said the city’s situation since filing for the grant had changed, that a labor agreement had been achieved between the city and the firefighters’ union.
“EMS services have been assumed by HealthLink and no longer a function of the Taylor Fire Department. Both of these developments had an altering impact on the city’s current standing in contrast to what was originally submitted as part of the grants ‘supplemental information,’” Lamarand said.
He said he had received a letter from FEMA that they are reviewing the city’s updated supplemental data and that a 30-day extension would go into effect.
Lamarand said he stands steadfast on his belief to not spend money the city doesn’t have.
“It is with this belief, I must refuse to accept the $8.1 Million Dollar SAFER Grant. I am fully aware that my refusal to do so, will most likely result in me being found in contempt, but I will stand firm and continue to represent what is in the best interests of the residents and the city at large, not what the five city council members sitting in the Bully Pulpit want,” he said.
Taylor’s fire chief Bob Tompos hopes the mayor complies with the judge’s order. “The grant is a bridge for us. We’ll use it to get by for now and will still make cuts and find creative ways to come up with new revenue," he said.
If Lamarand doesn’t comply, he’ll have to go back to court Friday to explain and face punishment from the judge.
Local 4's Rod Meloni report on the situation from June:Do you take the federal dollars?