Board OKs raises for employees, elected officials

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published December 15, 2023

 The West Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees voted to approve raises for township employees and elected officials at a special meeting Nov. 1.

The West Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees voted to approve raises for township employees and elected officials at a special meeting Nov. 1.

File photo


WEST BLOOMFIELD — At a special meeting Nov. 1, the West Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees approved raises for all township employees and elected officials.

Township Supervisor Steven Kaplan, Township Clerk Debbie Binder, Township Treasurer Teri Weingarden and Trustees Diane Rosenfeld Swimmer and Jonathan Warshay all voted in favor. Trustees Jim Manna and Howard Rosenberg were not present at the meeting.

Lanny Whetstone is the director of human resources for the township. He expanded on the raises that were approved.

“We gave $3,200 to every employee’s (base) wage — so we just added $3,200 to their base wage, and then our employees were scheduled for a 3% raise Jan. 1 of 2024, so we brought that forward … to Oct. 8,” Whetstone said. “And then, also, our employees were scheduled to get a 2.5% raise, Jan. 1 of 2025, and we increased that to 3%. We raised that a half percent, and it (is) still effective Jan. 1 of 2025. … It included all of our employees and our elected officials,” he said. “Anytime we give raises to our employees, we also give the same raise to our elected (officials); three that work at the township – township treasurer, township supervisor, township clerk. … That’s been our pattern since I’ve worked here, which is about 8 1/2 years.”

According to Kaplan, the West Bloomfield clerk and treasurer earn $137,000 per year, with the supervisor earning $139,950.

Although they are not full-time township employees, board trustees also received an increase in pay.

During the agenda item discussion about elected officials receiving a pay increase at the special meeting, Kaplan proposed an amendment.

“I would like to amend that motion — friendly amendment, I suppose, and that would be for the four township trustees — to provide them with a $10,000 stipend per year,” Kaplan said.

The amendment proposal was unanimously approved.

In an interview with the Beacon, Kaplan said that the trustees were previously earning $8,000 per year.

He shared his rationale for the pay increase for elected officials.

“The reasoning for that is, with runaway inflation, inflation reaching 7 or 8%, especially for food and gasoline, our employees essentially received pay decreases because their salaries were not even remotely keeping up with inflation,” Kaplan said.

Given current economic conditions and inflation, Manna said that he supports the raises given to employees of the township. However, the raises that were approved for elected officials is another matter, he said.

“Being in local government has made me be more conscious (of) all the waste there is in government, unfortunately,” Manna said. “I don’t believe that we as part-time trustees should be given a raise, but it was voted in and I wasn’t there. I think I would’ve been in the minority. … I do not support the raise for the elected officials.”

Regular Board of Trustees meetings are typically held on Monday evenings at Township Hall. The special meeting, which was an open meeting that was televised on Civic Center TV, was scheduled on a Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. in a room at the West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation building.

Kaplan cited a raise for police officers as one of the reasons for the special meeting.

“It was urgent for the board to take a stance on the police officers’ salaries,” he said. “We could’ve waited several weeks until the next regular meeting, but in the meantime, Oak Park and other communities had increased their salaries for police officers, and that would have an effect on recruiting and retaining police officers. … Only if it’s important to conduct business and either approve or not approve a matter is when a special meeting’s called. Otherwise, it’s a regular meeting.”

According to Whetstone, members of the West Bloomfield Police Department on the top of the pay scale received an increase of $2,068 in base pay, with $3,120 being added to the base pay of all of the police officers.

Those on top of the pay scale received base-pay increases of both $2,068 and $3,120.

Whetstone emphasized that they were not lump-sum payments.

Members of the Police Department were also included among all of the employees and elected officials who received a 3% raise.

Warshay described the pay increase for police officers as “the context of where it started.”

“We’re losing 10% of our police officers to other communities, even though we’re a very desirable place to work as an officer,” he said. “The difference in pay was the reason they were leaving. So, we raised that, and then we had to do similarly for the rest of the employees. So then to keep a differential between the employees, the department heads and the elected officials, that’s why theirs was raised.”

Warshay expanded on why elected officials were included in the mix.

“Because they supervise the department heads, who were also bumped up,” he said.

West Bloomfield Police Chief Michael Patton said that one of his primary responsibilities is to attract and retain quality law enforcement professionals.

“We look at the wages and benefits that we offer because it is a competitive market,” Patton said. “Other communities had already done what we just did here in West Bloomfield. They looked at their wages to see if there’s anything they could do within their agencies and their communities to provide greater wages.”

In an email, Kaplan stated that there are approximately 300 full- and part-time employees in the township, including in the police and fire departments, as well as water utilities staff members.

He said the raises that were approved amount to $483,946 this year and $1,242,935 next year.

The township’s 2023 general fund equity balance, according to Kaplan, is $40.4 million, with $34.7 being the forecasted fund equity balance Jan. 1, 2024.

He also stated that the amended revenue for this year is $130 million, with $114.5 million in expenditures.

The projected revenues for next year is $129,300,000, with the projected expenditures expected to be $126,900,000, according to Kaplan.

“These figures are emblematic of the township’s conservative spending and careful husbandry of its funds,” Kaplan stated via email.

Weingarden also weighed in on the raises that were approved.

“West Bloomfield acknowledges the dedication of our public safety, water utilities and all town hall employees and recognizes our compensation needs to be competitive,” she stated via email. “The increases were done uniformly to recognize all of our West Bloomfield employees and show our deep appreciation for exemplary service. … The salary increase was given to all full-time employees including the Police Chief, Fire Chief, Department Heads and three full-time elected officials (who serve as department heads).”

According to Warshay, the money for the raises is coming from the township’s general fund.

He shared a message for residents.

“We understand, certainly, the appearance of granting raises. We felt it was necessary to retain the employees who serve the public,” Warshay said.

At press time, Binder had not provided comments, Rosenberg declined to comment and Rosenfeld Swimmer did not respond to opportunities to comment.