Board approves contract with sheriff

By: Robert Guttersohn | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published December 18, 2012

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The Board of Trustees approved a new law-enforcement contract with the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office Dec. 12 to ensure that deputies patrol the township through 2015.

The approved contract increases the annual amount the township pays to the Sheriff’s Office to an average of $3.2 million a year, from about $3 million under the old contract. The increase accounts for a possible wage increase among sheriff personnel throughout the next three years.

“This is still by far and away a bargain,” said Township Supervisor Janet Dunn.

The deputies receive no pay increase in their current contract, which went into effect in November. The deputies union and the county went into arbitration in October, after a year without a contract. An arbitrator awarded a new, one-year contract that kept wages for deputies at the same rate and cut their paid holidays, said Eric Herppich, the director of the Macomb County Human Resources and Labor Relations Department.

The arbitrator, George Roumell, cited the county’s fiscal shape in his decision not  to award deputies a pay increase.

“With the economic realities as they are, the best that can be hoped for is a holding pattern with some modest concessions until the county is able to stabilize its economic health, which depends on the housing market,” Roumell wrote in the arbitration award.

Macomb’s contract with the Sheriff’s Office calls for a refund to the township if there is no wage increase during the three-year period. The contract covers 23 positions, including 20 deputies as well as a lieutenant, sergeant and dispatcher.

What’s next for the township board is to decide if it should pay for the increase out of the general fund or raise the police millage it levies on property owners.

“Our millage allows us to levy up to 2 mills,” Township Clerk Michael Koehs said.

The township currently levies 1.06 mills to pay for the deputies patrolling the township.

“The problem with taking out of the general fund year after year is, eventually, it ends up being a huge amount,” Koehs said. “Then when you go to adjust the millage — boom.”

If the board decided to raise the millage, the amount needed to cover the increased cost would be “miniscule,” Koehs said.

The contract goes into effect Jan. 1. The township has until the end of the fiscal year on June 30 to make the decision on how to fund it.