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      Traverse City fire services debate heating up

      The debate over fire services in Traverse City is heating up.

      Monday night commissioners voted six to one in favor of asking the Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department for a bid to take over city services.

      The city has had its own fire department for 137 years, but commissioners are looking for a way to cut costs. City fire services make up 19% of the general budget costing about $2.5 million dollars a year.

      Traverse City Commissioner Mary Moore says, "This isn't like let's get the firefighters. It's not. You have to understand our position. We are responsible to the citizens to be fiscally sound. We cannot be fiscally sound and keep the same fire department. We cannot do it. We have to do the unpopular thing and be the bad guys."

      Before Monday's decision, the firefighters' union rejected a proposal that included staff cuts through attrition and the use of part time firefighters. The union countered with a plan to generate thousands of dollars more in revenue by providing ambulance transport services.

      Bifoss said the union's idea was not sustainable because it didn't include part time positions.

      More than a dozen residents had harsh words for city leaders.

      One Traverse City resident said, "You are only thinking of yourselves and own personal agendas at the cost of our community as a whole. Shame on you."

      It will be about a month before commissioners receive Grand Traverse Metro Fire Departmentâ??s bid. A final decision could be up to voters in November.