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City Manager Brown tackles inherited projects, starts list of improvements for Hartford - looking to restructure police dept.

On Monday, June 24, 2024 the Hartford City Commissioner’s business meeting was called to order promptly at 5:30 p.m. after the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance by Mayor Richard Hall.

All city officials were in attendance, including City Manager Nicol Brown, City Clerk RoxAnn Rodney-Isbrecht, and City Treasurer Pam Shultz.

City Manager Brown updated the commissioners at the meeting of several ongoing projects. She also presented her goals and objectives during her report.


City resident Bruce Pleyer inquired about city-owned property adjacent to his property. He expressed interest in acquiring the property and asked the board to consider his proposal.


The board reviewed the following communications:

A date was set for the Council Special Meeting on June 25 in Closed Session to address the City Manager’s review.

City Hall will be closed on July 4 & July 5 in observance of Independence Day.

A board of review meeting will be held at 9 a.m. on July 18, 2024, at Hartford City Hall, 19 W. Main St., for corrections of clerical errors or mutual mistakes of fact.

A notice was issued informing residents that nominating petitions for a city commissioner seat are now available at the clerk’s office. Three seats will become available, each serving a two-year term. The deadline to file these petitions is July 23, 2024, by 4 p.m.

A thank-you card was read from the Greater Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce and the Hartford Strawberry Festival Committee for cooperation in the 2024 Hartford Strawberry Festival.

Reports of Officers, Boards, and Committees

The following meeting minutes were approved and filed: Hartford Public Library May 14, 2024 Minutes, Hartford Public School June 2024 Minutes, and Van Buren Conservation District June updates.

Police report

Hartford Police Chief Mike Prince presented updates on 800 MHz radio systems, advising against upgrades or purchases as funding is expected. He also noted ongoing policy updates and announced that the Michigan State Police would conduct an evidence audit on June 26.

Chief Prince’s May report showed 123 calls for service, including six arrests (five misdemeanors and one felony). It also noted one operating while under the influence citation, four misdemeanor and one felony warrant citations, seven civil infractions, and one misdemeanor.

Personnel updates included an officer on sick leave since June 10, with a doctor’s appointment scheduled soon, and a new cadet expected to complete training by August 9. Three officers are enrolled in a gang class on June 27 at Covert P.D.

The police department received a donation for Stop Sticks for both Ford Explorers, and fleet status updates were provided in the chief’s written report.

Fire Department

Hartford Fire Chief Rob Harting reported 57 calls in May, including two fires, 41 rescue and emergency medical service calls, and 12 other service calls. Van Buren Emergency Medical Services (VBEMS) has stationed a new ambulance at the Hartford Fire House to serve the community faster.

Chief Harting updated the board on equipment status, including the addition of six new Lifepak CR2 AEDs in every vehicle. He requested new nozzles for unit 1871, as current nozzles are outdated. Three quotes were provided: Dinges Fire Company: $6,172.00; Moses Fire Equipment: $5,484.75; West Shore Fire: $5,989.00.

The board approved the purchase from Moses Fire Equipment at a cost not to exceed $8,000.

The fire department submitted a proposal for a DNR Grant for 2024/2025, requesting $5,000 towards Wildland Fire Gear. Chief Harting also reported on successful fundraising events and upcoming preparations for the Van Buren County Youth Fair. The department switched to AT&T services for cost savings on phone and internet services.

Hartford Fire Board

Ron Sefcik reported that Donna Spenner, representing Lawrence Township, requested assistance from the Hartford Fire Department for Quick Response and Priority I calls due to low manpower. This coverage was agreed upon.

Sefcik proposed a process for spending over $10,000 without calling a special meeting, suggesting a representative attend both city and township meetings to discuss such purchases. He also updated the board on the VBIMS building, expected to be completed by early October, and necessary modifications for the new ambulance and 24-hour staffing.

The board reviewed documents from Siegfried Crandall PC, Certified Public Accountants & Advisors, approving the firm to perform the audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2024, not to exceed $5,200.

Ambulance Service

VBIMS Ambulance reported 24 calls in April, with an average response time of 4:56 minutes for Priority I calls. In May, they reported 24 calls with an average response time of 6:32 minutes for Priority I calls.

Van Buren Commission report

Mike Chappell presented the May report, highlighting a new off-road vehicle map available online and encouraging residents to check it out.

Wastewater Treatment Plant

Andrew Warner reported the hiring and training of a new employee. Mercury levels were tested at a local dentist’s office, and samples were submitted to an outside lab. The report also mentioned ongoing maintenance and upkeep efforts.

Treasurer’s Report

The board approved the payment of bills totaling $418,993.13 for June 24, 2024.

City Manager’s Report

City Manager Nicol Brown reported on the following current projects:

106 South Center Demolition: Fishbeck, solutions provider completed a Hazardous Materials Inspection on June 11, awaiting results. Once approved, the city can execute a contract with Cross Excavation for demolition.

5 W. Main Street: The State Land Bank approved structural stabilization, with Fishbeck leading project administration. A stabilization contract is being prepared for bidding, and there is interest in purchasing the property.

Hiring at DPW and WWTP: Sterling Smith was hired for the Department of Public Works, starting June 17. Another applicant is undergoing screening for a vacant position.

Waste Water Treatment Plant update: Mercury exceedance was traced to a local dentist’s office. The city will work with EGLE on next steps after receiving test results.

Streetscape Downtown Improvement: County Line Nursery, awarded the bid for Project B & C, later declined. The city seeks new bids for the entire project.

City Hall holiday hours: closed on July 4th for Independence Day and on July 5th with staff using vacation or personal days.


City Manager Brown presented the following goals and objectives:

Meeting with the DDA board; Hiring Public Works Laborers and Code Enforcement Officers; Restructuring the Police Department; Completing the Streetscape Project; Seeking Homeowner Rehabilitation grants with VBC; Deciding on Zoning Administration; Potential amendment to the Rental Registration Ordinance; Organizing files and payroll documentation; Amending the employee handbook; Seeking quotes for new financial and utility software; Selling city-owned property within the right-of-way; Updating the Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance (long-term goal).

Approval of Commission Minutes

The following minutes were approved: Special Business Meeting from May 20, 2024, Public Hearing 2024 Truth in Taxation Minutes, May 20, 2024, Public Hearing 2024/2025 Budget Minutes, May 20, 2024, Minutes, and June 10, 2024, Minutes.

Old business

The revised amendment for the 2024/2025 fiscal year budget was discussed.

New business

Shared Streets and Spaces Grant (SSSG): The city is applying for a grant to construct 1,800 feet of ADA-compliant sidewalk, improving connectivity and safety for pedestrians, especially children and those with disabilities. The total project cost is $276,000, with up to $200,000 covered by the grant.

County-wide Road Millage: The Van Buren County Road Commission discussed the renewal of the County-wide Road Millage on August 6, 2024. A brochure explaining the millage will be distributed, and a resolution was submitted for consideration.

AT&T Mobility Cellular Site Lease: Negotiations are ongoing for the lease at 17 W. Main Street. Terms include a monthly lease payment of $2,380.50 with a 2% annual increase, extending the lease through November 30, 2043.

Surf Internet Fiber Optic Network: Surf Internet applied to use the city’s public rights-of-way to install a fiber optic network. The Metro Act requires municipalities to approve or deny access within 45 days. The city commission approved Surf Internet’s METRO Act permit.

Financial Audit: Hungerford was approved to complete the fiscal year-end financial audit, not to exceed $27,500. The audit ensures the city’s financial health and transparency.

USDA Broadband Technical Assistance Program: The city will participate in “Project Compass,” collaborating with Merit Network to expand digital opportunities and broadband infrastructure. Activities include community listening tours, sentiment surveys, feasibility studies, and grant support.

Introductions of Resolutions or Amendments

The following resolutions were passed:

Resolution 2024–014A: Fiscal year budget 2024/2025

Resolution 2024–019A: Awarding Streetscape Project C

Resolution 2024–021: Authorizing the application for the Michigan shared streets and space grant



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