Clinton Township Planning Commission gives OK to increase pay for commission, zoning board members

By: Alex Szwarc | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published November 24, 2021

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — A pay raise of over 100% has been granted for members of the Clinton Township Planning Commission.

On Nov. 8, the township Board of Trustees approved a pay rate increase request for members of the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals, or ZBA. Trustee Joie West was the lone “no” vote.

The pay has been increased to $100 a meeting.

Bruce Thompson, Clinton Township planning and community development director, said the request was submitted because being a ZBA or Planning Commission member requires more than just attending meetings.

“It requires visits to the various case sites on the agendas to ensure the members have a full understanding of the requests being reviewed,” he said.

Thompson noted that, for over 20 years, Planning Commission members received $45 a meeting, while the chair, vice-chair and secretary received $50. All ZBA members received $45 a meeting.

Ron DiBartolomeo, who is the vice-chair of the Planning Commission and ZBA, argued that folks serving on the committees should be adequately compensated.

“I believe an increase is well overdue and warranted,” he said. “I also believe the attendance will be better. There will be more of an incentive to be present at the meetings. It will also attract more and well-qualified candidates when openings occur.”

Examining what surrounding communities pay, Thompson said Macomb and Shelby townships pay Planning Commission and ZBA members $100 a meeting.

Also at the meeting, the board unanimously approved a financial sustainability project.

In 2019, the township assembled a strategic plan that focused on five key areas — media and communications, roads, pathways, river trails and economic development.

Dan O’Leary, deputy supervisor, said at least three of the initiatives are “quality of life” initiatives with significant financial and human resource requirements attached to them.

In a letter, O’Leary writes that current projections indicate that the general fund will spend more than it takes in over the next few years.

“The current path must be adjusted to ensure sustainability and to ensure that our five key initiatives can be achieved,” he said.

O’Leary noted that the path is complicated by major risk factors like postemployment costs and rising interest rates.

The sustainability team will include seven regular members and three individuals as needed.

Project tasks include projecting a five-year financial outlook and developing projection sensitivities around the key drivers.

In regard to financial modeling, the township asked Plante Moran to provide its services.

“Things are good right now but will not be good down the road,” Cannon said. “We want to prepare for that, and that is what this is all about.”

Treasurer Paul Gieleghem said Plante Moran is familiar with the township as its auditor and service provider.

At the meeting, O’Leary said the cost is not to exceed $30,000, and the goal is to have seven or eight team meetings to help develop the model.

Gieleghem said Clinton Township is in the process of transitioning from being an outer ring suburb with growth to an inner ring suburb that doesn’t have as much growth.

“We’re 95% developed, and as a result of that, there’s an ongoing increase in cost structure,” he said.

O’Leary noted that the committee isn’t going to make decisions on where the township spends its money. Rather, it will assist with projections and present it to the board.