Taxpayers in both Wayne and Westland could be on the hook to pay the full salary for Fire Chief, a cost that is currently being shared 50/50 from each City. The cities have shared a Fire Chief since 2012 and was part of a failed-effort by Westland Mayor Bill Wild and Wayne leaders to create a Regional Fire Authority with Wayne, Westland, Garden City & Inkster.
Wayne and Westland started the process of moving toward an authority by signing an interlocal shared-services agreement which allowed the two cities to combine some operations including a Fire Department Headquarters and pooling together other public safety resources for cost savings. The initiative, spearheaded by Wild, was managed by former Fire Chief Michael Reddy, who currently serves as Deputy Mayor of Westland. Reddy retired as Fire Chief of Westland and moved into a contracted position with the “Wayne-Westland Fire Authority” in 2012, however the authority was dissolved in 2017 after failing to receive support from Garden City & Inkster. He was later appointed by Wild as Deputy Mayor.
During a campaign interview during his run for Wayne County Executive in 2014, Mayor Wild of Westland stated that “In Westland, we combined our Fire Department with Wayne and we’re saving taxpayers $250,000 a year just by having one chief instead of two. We just announced that the two communities will share a public works director – another $340,000 in savings. He added that “Westland residents and taxpayers are saving millions, and still receiving top-quality services.”
In reality, those anticipated savings never materialized and taxpayers in both Wayne and Westland could now be on the hook to make up the difference which is estimated to be about $75,000 a year moving forward.
The news of the failed agreement comes within days of the announcement of current Chief Stradtner’s retirement. It is unclear at this time if this sudden retirement is related to the potential end of Westland and Wayne’s agreement. The Westland City Council will be voting on this next week. Stay tuned for updates and new developments on this story in the coming days.