Issues with public use of the John E. Labelle Public Safety Complex and EMS Building were laid out by different county officials at a recent meeting of the General Government & Health and Human Services Committee.

Acting County Administrator Cindy Catanach, Livingston County Emergency Manager Therese Cremonte and EMS Director David Feldpausch all spoke during the meeting and sought guidance from the committee related to issues since the building has been opened up to public groups for use. A building use policy was worked on several years ago but was never brought forward. Occasionally they have so many outside groups reserving rooms, nothing is available for public safety departments – for which the building was originally intended. Cremonte indicated it started out with good intent but snowballed without boundaries and staff is now tied up dealing with different non-profits and other public groups. She’s encountering various issues when it comes to scheduling public safety trainings but a multitude of other issues. Cremonte said it’s something they’ve swallowed for the past several years but has now become quite the task and detriment – adding everyone feels strongly about protecting the building. She noted the U of M Survival Flight is a tenant and the building also contains protected information and expensive equipment.

Commissioners were receptive to the concerns brought forward and felt it was an item that should move to Finance Committee for a similar discussion. Committee Chair Wes Nakagiri told WHMI he would personally like to see a policy in writing that not only applies to the EMS Public Safety building but any county building and bring it forward to the board for a vote. Nakagiri said there are some legitimate concerns and it’s unfortunate those things happen. He said the County is in a position where they really need to have a set of rules that applies evenly and fairly. From that standpoint, he said some groups that acted responsibly could be penalized for those that didn’t and that would be unfortunate but the full board needs to hammer these things out.

A memo noted that some groups expect the service and support they would expect from renting a facility but they are receiving for free. EMS Director Feldpausch stressed that it’s not a good use of resources and they need to restrict it completely to the public safety arena or figure something else out. At the minimum, Feldpausch felt some sort of policy is needed to consistently and fairly authorize use of county facilities. He noted there are also other security issues to address, including door access, which can get expensive. Commissioners and others agreed they don’t want to make it a free-for-all but also can’t discriminate. The drafting of a new policy was suggested or possibly putting the responsibility to facility services for management.

The memo states reservations are made for early morning, late evenings and weekends so they have to arrange for a supervisor to come in and open or close the building. EMS often has to pull in a supervisor to assist with technology issues and audio/video equipment and many groups request free copies or other items they forgot such as plates and napkins. People are said to leave children unattended at numerous times, who then run up and down stairs, inside and outside, and knock on doors and windows. The memo noted numerous times that Survival Flight and EMS staff have interrupted and/or asked for help. Staff also comes in to find confetti, food, garbage on tables and floors and then has to assist with clean-up for the next group. There have also been other issues related to damage or theft of property, including cords and equipment as well as a bathroom. (JM)