Andrew Trzaska | March 26, 2012
Muskegon Heights Fire Department Lieutenant Christopher Dean has received a promotion to interim fire chief.
The move will increase his responsibilities to include the city’s inspections department. A priority derived from its goal-setting session, the city hopes to increase revenue while combating blight by enforcing housing code regulations and charging for violations.
Dean’s already contributed to the battle against blight as part of the city’s blight task force, which also includes the police chief, director of planning, director of public works, director of engineering and other department heads.
City Manager Natasha Henderson announced Dean’s promotion at Monday’s city council meeting.
“He has done some great work and this is a step forward for the City of Muskegon Heights because he has come up with some great ideas for this city,” said Henderson.
Mayor pro tem Kimberly Sims and Henderson both noted that other cities have looked to Muskegon Heights to see how they have eliminated their multi-million dollar deficit in the past few years, and Dean’s promotion continues their strategy:
“People look to the City of Muskegon Heights to see what we’re doing. We have to raise revenue,” said Henderson. “We have to attack blight.”
Dean spoke at Monday’s meeting and shared some of his ideas for the fire and inspections department.
Dean sees blight fighting as his first priority, followed by increasing the customer service quality of the departments.
“We need to show people this is a customer-friendly city and you can deal with the City of Muskegon Heights in a professional manner,” said Dean.
Dean also suggested at Monday’s meeting that he hopes to make the inspections department a “revenue-neutral” area of the city government. Further aspects of this plan were not immediately available Monday.
Beyond the filling of the key fire chief position, the city’s battle with blight saw other action at Monday’s meeting. The city council voted 6-0 to demolish 25 abandoned residential properties within the city limits, some uninhabitable due to significant fire damage.
The city will not gain ownership of the land, nor would they gain any compensation from fire insurance on properties to the extent of Dean’s knowledge. However, the properties would have liens placed on them until the costs of demolition were recuperated from the property owners.
Councilman Keith Guy was not present at the meeting at the time of Monday’s agenda votes.