PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) - The city's Emergency Manager Lou Schimmel says he did the best he could for Pontiac when he created a plan for Waterford Township to take over fire services.
Schimmel spoke to Action News Thursday in his first interview since a majority of Pontiac's fire fighters voted to approve his takeover plan Wednesday night.
"I have a $12-million problem here in the city and that's three million of it that I felt like was a no-brainer for me," Schimmel said.
Schimmel's $12-million dollar "problem" is a reference to the huge deficit he's trying to close. The fire department's budget is $3-million. The transfer of fire services comes just a few months after Pontiac's police department was shutdown – the Oakland County Sheriff's department has taken over.
Most if not all of Pontiac's fire fighters will be all but guaranteed jobs in Waterford, but some may lose rank and pay.
Meanwhile, Schimmel is already planning his next move, which includes a plan to slash healthcare costs. He says he wants to consolidate all of the city's health plans into one. That means there could be significant jumps in co-pays.
"It isn't the same plan as some of the retirees have now where they have almost 100-percent pay of everything, but in this day and age if we're going to have retirement benefits for everybody that's in that plan – if we don't do something like this someday retirees will be getting nothing," Shimmel said.
The 70-year-old emergency manager expects to be in Pontiac through the end of 2015. His tenure as E.M. comes after similar stints in Ecorse and Hamtramck.