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Macomb Township, Shelby Township

February 11, 2013

Shelby board sets March 5 date for vote on 41-A agreement

By Brad D. Bates and Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writers

SHELBY TOWNSHIP/MACOMB TOWNSHIP — When it comes to deciding who will host the 41-A District Court, what difference does a couple of weeks make?

That was part of the thought process as Shelby Township Supervisor Richard Stathakis postponed his Board of Trustees’ vote on an interlocal agreement outlining court legacy costs between Shelby and Macomb townships from its original date of Feb. 19 to March 5.

“I decided before the (Feb. 5) meeting that it would be best for our board and our residents to have some extra time to review this very critical document,” Stathakis said.

Shelby’s decision to delay the vote postpones the issue — which has been discussed, negotiated and debated for 10 years — of whether or not the court will have a new building and whether or not it will be in Macomb Township, and it also delayed Macomb from acting on the agreement.

Macomb officials said that they are awaiting Shelby’s vote before taking any action on the agreement, which has been disseminated to the Macomb Board of Trustees.

Originally, Macomb planned to vote on the matter in February but will now hold off until the expected Shelby vote in March.

“It’s pointless for us,” Macomb Township Clerk Michael Koehs said of why his board is awaiting Shelby’s action before voting. “It would basically be an agreement with ourselves.”

Stathakis said, along with allowing his board more time to peruse and digest the agreement, he wanted to post it on his township’s website, www.shebytwp.org, and allow residents to read it and bring any questions or concerns to the board before the vote.

“The agreement is on the website, and you will have until March 5 to look at it and ask us questions,” Stathakis said at the Feb. 5 board meeting. “And (the March 5) decision will be an up or down vote.”

The agreement proposes that Shelby assumes the health care and severance costs of the employees, based on the percentage of their career worked in Shelby.

For example, if an employee worked 10 years in Shelby, 20 years in Macomb and then retired after 30 years, Shelby would pay a third of the employee’s health care premium.

Any benefit increases made by negotiation while the court is in Macomb would be paid for solely by Macomb.

Employees must be full-time in Shelby in order to be part of the breakdown.

The agreement also carries a “no obligation to hire” clause, meaning the agreement does not obligate Macomb to hire any current court employees.

While it will move the process forward, a positive vote to accept the agreement by both communities is in no way binding in that it will not require Macomb to build a new courthouse.

Votes to accept the agreement would place the ball in the court of the 41-A judges, as they would then petition Macomb for a new facility.

Judge Douglas Shepherd, who presides over the 41-A court in Shelby Township, said that he would be in favor of the move and would take the necessary actions as soon as the agreement is acted upon.

“If, in fact, the Shelby and Macomb Township boards approve the agreement, the court would be requesting that discussions with Macomb Township commence to determine if they have the ability and interest to host the court, and supply an appropriate and safe facility for the court and its users,” Shepherd said in an email.

Macomb is still optimistic about housing the court and combining its building with its township building near 25 Mile and Broughton roads to bolster its Macomb Town Center area.

“If Shelby passes the resolution, Macomb passes the resolution and then the judge asks us to build a new courthouse, then we’ll have to look into the specifics on what that would entail,” Koehs said, noting that the process of planning and building a new court would likely take two years.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brad D. Bates at bbates@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1029.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robert Guttersohn at rguttersohn@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5006.