Eastpointe city manager to retire Aug. 4

By: Bria Brown | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published June 14, 2017

 Eastpointe City Manager Steve Duchane’s last working day will be Aug. 4 after the City Council voted to go in another direction rather than extend his contract to 2019 during the council’s June 6 meeting at Eastpointe City Hall.

Eastpointe City Manager Steve Duchane’s last working day will be Aug. 4 after the City Council voted to go in another direction rather than extend his contract to 2019 during the council’s June 6 meeting at Eastpointe City Hall.

File photo by Deb Jacques

EASTPOINTE — The Eastpointe City Council voted 3-2 to extend Eastpointe City Manager Steve Duchane’s contract to Aug. 4 after a closed session during the council’s June 6 meeting at Eastpointe City Hall, but Duchane will retire afterward. 

Council members Sarah Lucido, Cardi DeMonaco Jr. and Mayor Pro Tem Michael Klinefelt voted in favor of the short extension, while Councilman John Marion and Eastpointe Mayor Suzanne Pixley voted against the motion.

After the closed session was over, DeMonaco stated that he wanted to go “in a different direction.” 

“I thought I would like to make a motion not to renew the City Manager’s contract, but extend the current contract till Aug. 4, except remove the severance,” he said.

In an email to the Eastsider June 9, DeMonaco went into further detail on the reason he wanted to go into a different direction.

“The vote to end the City Manager’s employment on August 4th was an important vote for the residents of Eastpointe. We had a City Manager not working with the goals laid out by the City Council, and, for example, was consistently disregarding the Purchasing Ordinance of the City, as I have brought up in many meetings. The City Manager and City Council need to work together for the benefit of our residents and businesses. We should be on the same page and on the same team; we are here for them. I look forward to interviewing new City Manager candidates and working together with my fellow Councilmembers to better Eastpointe,” stated DeMonaco.

The contract for Duchane, who was hired in September 2011, was set to expire June 30. A proposal from Duchane May 16 offered some changes to the current contract, including an increase in pay, and proposed a new agreement from July 1 until June 30, 2019.

The contract Duchane suggested would increase the city manager’s annual pay from $107,000 to $125,000.

In the event of his termination, the proposed contract sought “a lump sum cash payment equal to 12 months’ salary, plus all accrued and unused annual leave time at the Manager’s current rate and medical benefits.” The current contract paid a lump sum cash payment equal to five months’ salary, plus the accrued time and benefits.

Pixley’s concerns with not extending Duchane’s contact were an upcoming election and the Department of Justice lawsuit against the city.

“Aug. 4 is essentially six weeks from today. You may have two council people that are up for election in November,” she said. “We have one council person that’s not going to be here as of today, so the council has to decide whether you’re going to appoint someone to replace Mr. Marion or not, that’s the No. 1 thing.

“No. 2 is, when you have an election, you also need your city clerk to be present, and you need a deputy city clerk and you need a staff in the office. Your deputy clerk is very close to retirement, and may well do that. Then, you’re going to be out a clerk and a deputy clerk. Mr. (Randy) Blum sitting over there is very close to retirement. Who do you think is going to run your elections come November?”

Along with her concerns, the mayor had suggestions.

“My suggestion is that you extend his contract to December, because you may well have the only person, Mrs. Lucido, sitting at this table, depending on the election results. Who is going to run the election, and where do you think you’re going to get a city manager in a very short time?” said Pixley.

Marion felt the timing was bad.

“I think the timing would be horrible to make the change right now, plain and simple, because it’s too many variables you can’t guarantee,” said Marion.

One of the variables is the fate of his council seat with regard to the Department of Justice lawsuit against the city.

“The fact that the decision has to be made on what you’re going to do with my seat, to also think to try and bring what I think is one of the better city managers in the tri-county area, to replace him and think we’re going to find somebody else, I think you’re dreaming. I think we need to look at his experience, his longevity and what he’s done for the city,” he said.

After the council stated their opinions, Duchane spoke.

“I think if the proposed option of separation of employment release is talked about, considering retirement and other factors going into it, if that’s of interest with the majority of the council, I think the mechanics of the separation of employment are what is going to be important for both parties,” said Duchane.

“I’ll help Eastpointe transition, and going to a date, if I might last a working date of Aug. 4, then I will do my best in the period of time, and I know the mayor said it’s a short period of time, but I will do my best under the terms of that agreement to work forward and assist you in any way that’s possible in making this transition orderly and make sense,” he said.

After going back and forth with each other for almost 40 minutes, Klinefelt made a motion with the new agreement stipulations.

“I will make a motion to extend the offer for the separation of employment release agreement that’s in front of us, with the change that pay and benefits would extend to the first pay period in November,” he said.

Duchane spoke with the Eastsider after the meeting was over inside City Hall.

“After the closed discussion, I agreed to retire Aug. 4, and we worked out terms for that. I’m pleased we can mutually help each other go forward to the next phases,” said Duchane.

A call was made and an email was sent to Duchane for further comment, but he couldn’t be reached before press time.