Grosse Pointe City approves revised contract for forestry services

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published August 13, 2021


GROSSE POINTE CITY — Grosse Pointe City will be retaining the services of City Forester Brian Colter — at least for now.

During a meeting July 19, the Grosse Pointe City Council voted unanimously in favor of a revised intergovernmental agreement with Grosse Pointe Park to share the services of Colter, who has been the Park’s forester for about 27 years.

Although the agreement includes a sizable price increase — the City will be paying the Park $73.52 an hour for Colter, as opposed to the $54 per hour rate the City had been paying the Park before for his services — City Manager Pete Dame said he recommended approving the revised agreement. Dame said the City hadn’t updated this agreement with the Park since 2017.

Because the City didn’t learn about the proposed hourly fee increase until June 22 — after the 2021-22 budget had been approved — Dame said the increase wasn’t budgeted. To stay within the budgeted amount, Dame said Colter would only be working one day a week in the City, not a day and a half, as he had been.

“He was busier when he first started,” Dame said of Colter and his workload in the City. “I think it’s more of a manageable task (now).”

Colter was hired as the City’s forester in 2017. When he started, his job included helping to complete an inventory of all City-owned trees and collaborating with the City’s Urban Forestry Commission to draft a master plan for the City’s trees. Since then, the City has been honored for its tree program and efforts to preserve its urban canopy, including being named a Sterling Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation earlier this year.

Now, Dame said, Colter’s work is primarily focused on tree maintenance, tree replacement and related urban forestry efforts in the City.

City Councilman John Stempfle asked Dame if the hourly rate “includes fringe benefits.” Dame said it does.

Dame said the City is considering other options in the future, including bidding out its forestry services.

“We’re hoping this is a temporary agreement,” Dame said of the contract with the Park.

He said Grosse Pointe Farms recently signed its own agreement with the Park to use Colter’s services for one day at week at the same hourly rate.

“It sounds reasonable,” City Councilman Christopher Walsh said of reducing Colter’s work schedule.