Questions raised in Bertrand fire chief salaryPublished 10:49am Wednesday, February 10, 2010
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
A change made back in 2004 to a Bertrand Township millage has made its way to the agenda for members of the Bertrand Township board Thursday.
Questions have risen regarding an increase in a millage specifically pertaining to the salary for the township’s fire chief, which according to previous documentation was increased in order to pay the chief a salary of approximately $20,000 per year, an increase from a $5,000 salary assigned to the position prior to 2004.
Township Clerk Jane Lano explained that a 1.35 mill was levied to 1.526 in 2004, under the purpose of increasing the fire chief’s salary. But it seems that salary was not increased as proposed – increased only to $10,000 – an issue that has been going on unaddressed since 2004.
An excess of $30,000 appears to have been deposited into the fire department’s savings account, money that most likely was collected as a part of the chief’s salary increase.
Now the chief, reportedly supported by his department, is asking for a salary increase based on his duties and hours logged.
“It definitely has a direct connection to the millage,” Lano said.
Confusion may be coming from another millage pertaining to the fire department, coming in just around 1 mil which was used for general operations and to build the substation fire building at Bertrand Crossing.
Lano questioned whether citizens of the township were even aware of the increase in the millage for the fire chief’s salary, as the wording of the measure seemed vague.
Documentation dating back to 2004 shows township supervisor John Mefford requested information from the township’s attorney about how to levy the millage in order to increase the fire chief’s salary.
A letter dated Sep. 9, 2004 from James Porter of Bauckham, Sparks, Rolfe, Lohrstorfer and Thall P.C. in Kalamazoo is addressed to Mefford and quotes the attorney as saying, “you indicated the township’s need to add to that levy an amount sufficient to raise an additional $15,000 for the fire chief’s annual salary.”
The situation seems confusing enough but one aspect seems clear: the people have been party to a mil levy that was intended to increase the salary of their fire chief, a salary that remains significantly lower than the proposed amount.
The board will meet Thursday night at the Township Hall at 7:30 p.m.