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November 26, 2013

Berkley, Huntington Woods sign shared resources agreement

By Joshua Gordon
C & G Staff Writer

BERKLEY — Berkley City Council Nov. 18 unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement between the cities of Berkley and Huntington Woods  for shared resources and services, including road salt and fuel.

For more than a decade, the Berkley Department of Public Works has provided the Huntington Woods DPW with road salt and unleaded fuel for their city vehicles. After signing a similar agreement with the Berkley School District last year, city officials felt compelled to do the same with Huntington Woods.

“This is another example of collaboration, and we have done this together with the city of Huntington Woods for so many years, but for whatever reason, we never put it down in words,” City Manager Jane Bais-DiSessa said. “This time around, our (DPW) director decided to put it in writing, and it will not change the services we currently work with in regards to the city of Huntington Woods, but we are having a contract this time. Our city attorney reviewed it and recommended it for consideration.”

The total cost levied on Huntington Woods for a load of salt, which is about 10 tons, is roughly $500. The unleaded fuel fluctuates depending on fuel costs, but the last price at the end of October was $3.14 per gallon.

Huntington Woods also pays a flat fee for monthly fuel island maintenance, which was $157.94 in October.

“We have gone through this process in the last year and a half with the Berkley School District, and it was easy enough to take that agreement and format it for the city of Huntington Woods to make it easier in processing orders,” Berkley DPW Director Derrick Schueller said. “This also opens up the door, with the agreement being worded pretty broadly, to give us the ability to use the established framework for materials or manpower outside of fuel and salt, and gives us an opportunity to share other things, as well.”

Schueller said the fuel is used for all the Huntington Woods DPW and police vehicles while Berkley is the only place Huntington Woods relies on for road salt. Personnel from the Huntington Woods DPW travel to Berkley to get the salt and the fuel.

“I think, from Berkley’s end, this established some consistencies from the billing perspective, as well as how the materials are tracked,” Schueller said. “We haven’t had any issues with (Huntington Woods), but I think it is good to have it formalized to make sure we are all on the same page.”

Huntington Woods DPW Manager Claire Galed said Huntington Woods understands where Berkley officials are coming from in wanting a formal agreement, and Huntington Woods is more than happy to comply.

“When the school district approached them and put together an agreement, they probably thought they should have a similar thing with Huntington Woods,” Galed said. “Some of their costs have gone up with some restrictions being put on the underground tanks, so they are incurring fairly substantial costs to maintain that. We knew the impact it was having on Berkley, and we were really not paying for that, so we thought maybe we should share and were not surprised by the agreement.”

Berkley Mayor Phil O’Dwyer commented before the council members voted that city collaboration may be a new thing among some cities, but Berkley has been doing it for a long time and will continue doing so moving forward.

“We have been doing regional collaboration for years now, and while it is fashionable these past few years to discuss collaboration between communities, we have been doing it for decades,” O’Dwyer said. “They help reduce our costs, and it endorses a sense of collaboration, so it is a good thing on several levels and it matters a great deal to us as a city to collaborate on these types of things.”

When it comes to smaller cities, Schueller said collaborating could sometimes be the best option on saving costs.

“Smaller cities don’t have the access or the resources to build their own salt domes or underground storage tanks, so I think it is absolutely critical to partner within communities as a first wave of defense,” he said. “Huntington Woods could go the more commercial route with a gas station and a fleet account, but if we can help them out, that is great.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Joshua Gordon at jgordon@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1077.