Grosse Pointe Farms eliminates health care for next municipal court judge

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 8, 2021

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GROSSE POINTE FARMS — With Grosse Pointe Farms’ long-standing Municipal Court Judge Matthew Rumora not running for reelection in November — he can’t because of state age restrictions on judges — the city has decided to revise its compensation package for whoever voters name as Rumora’s successor.

City Manager Shane Reeside said compensation for the judge can’t be changed as they get closer to the election, so the Farms City Council voted unanimously during a meeting by Zoom March 8 to amend the compensation package for whoever is elected to the bench in November. The Farms’ municipal court judge — a part-time position — had been paid an annual salary of $23,645, plus health care for the judge and judge’s spouse, at an additional annual cost of $14,028. Under the amended compensation plan, the judge will be paid an annual salary of $30,000 but not receive health care.

Officials said this salary is more in keeping with what the other Grosse Pointes pay their judges. Grosse Pointe Woods, the largest Pointe, pays its judge $30,000 annually. Grosse Pointe Park, the second-largest Pointe, pays its judge $25,000. Grosse Pointe City and Grosse Pointe Shores each pay their judges $15,000 a year; the Shores is a sub-court of the Farms, but it pays the municipal court judge separately.

“I think it’s a very fair proposal to the incoming judge, whoever that might be,” said City Councilman John Gillooly, who also chairs the Farms Personnel Committee.

None of the other Pointes offer medical insurance to their municipal court judges because it “creates too many headaches,” Gillooly said.

In addition, Reeside said health insurance “has become a more costly benefit” for the city, especially given the fact that the Farms is self-insured.

Besides regular monthly court dates, the municipal court judges are often called upon to authorize warrants — as is the case when a suspected drunken driver refuses to take a breath test, necessitating a hospital blood test — and arraign suspects outside of normal court dates and hours.

City Attorney William Burgess said the new compensation package will take effect as of the November election.

Farms officials acknowledge that Rumora’s shoes will be hard to fill.

Gillooly said Rumora has been “a great leader on and off the bench,” and City Councilman James Farquhar said Rumora “has done a phenomenal job.”

“Matt’s been with the city since 1988,” Reeside said. “He’s had a long-standing tenure here and will be sorely missed.”