Michigan Group Loses Suit to Support Fire Department

A citizens group in Michigan has lost its initial bid to have a court order township officials to hold a referendum vote on a special tax levy to support the fire department.

The Citizens Action Group of Plymouth Township filed suit against Plymouth Township last week seeking to compel a referendum election in February to restore $925,000 in cuts to the Plymouth Community Fire Department. Township officials have sought to block such a vote and last week refused to honor a petition that CAGPT claims was signed by the necessary 10% of the property owners in the district.

The problem for the fire department began when the City of Plymouth withdrew from a joint fire authority agreement to support the Plymouth Community Fire Department, and instead reached an agreement with the Northville Fire Department to provide emergency services.

Faced with a $925,000 shortfall, Plymouth Township seeks to reduce the department’s budget, which CAGPT claims will result in layoffs and service reductions.

Yesterday, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Michael Sapala concluded that CAGPT failed to prove it had the signatures of 10% of the property owners, and dismissed the case. CAGPT attorney Marvin Stempien has vowed to obtain the information required by the judge and pursue the matter. The group has until December 20, 2011 to force the Township to place the matter on the ballot in time for a February 28, 2012 referendum.

More on the story. And more.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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