Marl Delivers State Of The City Address
Infrastructure dominated Mayor Brian Marl’s charter-mandated State of the City address, January 12.
“My friends, 2021 has now passed. Another year of unprecedented challenges and hardships; our region devastated by a global health pandemic, businesses shuttered, services reduced; with subsequent disruptions to supply chains, increased labor shortages and burgeoning inflation. However, let me be clear that I will not be discouraged, and I will not be deterred,” Marl began his speech. “I look at hard times and I say that ‘this too, shall pass.’ I’m sure that 2022 will be a year of progress and productivity.”
Saline is suffering from labor shortages in virtually every industry, just like the rest of the country. The City has responded by investing in a code review task force and risk mitigation advisory panel to help the city identify long term problems and suggest solutions.
First responders also took up a long segment of the mayor’s speech. Police Chief Jeff Hart is close to finalizing his strategic plan, and is near to completing his accreditation process, which Marl predicted to be complete by April. Saline’s new fire chief is also in the process of establishing a five year plan to revitalize and modernize the department to face new challenges in this decade.
“The days of infrastructure delays and deferrals are over,” Marl said. “We will continue to act boldly and invest robustly in our municipal streets, sidewalks and water and sewer systems.”
Sidewalk construction and extension was discussed, as was a new jogging trail along Mill Pond Park. But it was water quality that dominated most of the infrastructure section of the speech.
Marl apologized the recurring water cloudiness issue. The mayor added that the city is attempting to rectify the problem with monthly system flushing and the introduction of a city-wide replacement of its aging water meters with new models.
Saline is in the process of modernizing and expanding its wastewater treatment plant, as the aging facility won’t be able to keep up with the demand of a growing city like Saline. The city agreed to play EGLE an $80,000 fine for an effluent discharge this year, and citizen complaints of cloudy or rust-colored drinking water have stacked up alarmingly.
Later in the meeting, Council discussed an idea to reimburse citizens who complained of contaminated water. The Council was mixed, with City Manager Colleen O’Toole saying it would be a “logistical challenge.”
Councilor Kevin Camero Sulak is in favor “as long as it is fair and equitable” and Councilor Jack Ceo said “I think it is a fair idea” but “It would be hard to implement though,” he said, adding he prefers a credit.
Councilor Dillon said she didn’t know how such an idea would be equitable “unless you give a credit to all users.” Dean Girbach – who was reelected Mayor Pro Tem by the Council at the same meeting – was against the idea, fearing forming a precedent where the city would have to financially compensate residents every time there is a problem. Councilor Jim Dell’Orcho said there was “No way to fairly solve this issue. It would almost be an insult.”
Wednesday’s meeting was delayed from Monday because a number of City Council members suffered breakthrough cases of Covid 19. All Council members have been vaccinated. Councilor Dawn Krause was absent, still being ill.