Mayor Slater gavels out

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published November 5, 2019

 Dane Slater

Dane Slater

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TROY — Mayor Dane Slater thanked the students attending the Oct. 21 Troy City Council meeting and had a message for them.

“You find out a lot about yourself when you make tough decisions,” Slater said from the council table.

He thanked his family, especially his wife, Judy. “This has been a great run. It’s time to pass on the baton.”

Slater was first elected to serve on the Troy City Council in 2009. In 2012, when Mayor Janice Daniels was recalled, he was appointed to serve as mayor. He was then elected mayor in a special election in 2013, and was elected again in 2015, serving two terms as mayor and one term as councilman.

He told C & G Newspapers he will miss interacting “with almost everyone in the community to some degree” at businesses and in the neighborhoods, and he especially will miss interacting with students.

Slater said he’s most proud of “being part of the council when times were really tough, in 2013-15, being part of a council that stepped up and made tough decisions,” and he praised the group he worked with and former Mayor Louise Schilling. “I always admired her for the way she handled herself.”

He praised the former council members he worked with, including Maureen McGinnis, Mary Kerwin, Wade Fleming and Robin Beltramini. “We can all hold our heads high. We got through some of the toughest years on the council.”

McGinnis now serves as the judge for the 52-4 District Court. Fleming serves as the Oakland County commissioner for District 16.

“I’m very proud of our solution for the library,” Slater said, referring to a voter-approved millage to operate the library six days per week.

He credited former City Manager John Szerlag for strategies Szerlag laid out during the economic downturn, and former City Manager Brian Kischnick for his work “the first couple years.” Slater explained that this included Kischnick’s part in resolving Downtown Development Authority bonds and the policy set forth to only use funds from the reserve for special, one-time projects.

In 2014, the city owed $17 million for the DDA bonds, rated junk bond status, making refinancing impossible. Tax increment values for 2014 were estimated to be $12.8 million, and they were expected to zero out in 2015.

As part of the bailout plan, the city issued $14 million in bonds backed by the city; extended the Troy DDA tax capture to 2033; and excluded the Kmart headquarters, Bank of America and other designated properties from the tax increment financing plan because they are valued at less than they were in 1993, changing the formula for capturing tax increment values.

The Troy City Council terminated Kischnick’s employment on March 11, 2018, following a March 9 domestic assault charge in Clawson, to which he pleaded no contest. Kischnick was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison and two years of probation after he pleaded guilty to bribery in August 2018. He was ordered to pay $4,500 in restitution.

 

Looking back
When asked about any regrets, Slater said, “It’s easy to second-guess.” He noted that he made it his practice not to second-guess the decisions he made as a Troy police officer and captain for over 30 years, and the decisions he made on the council. With regard to Kischnick, he said, “I wish we would have paid more attention to what was going on — but I didn’t know how I would have done that, not being privy to everything.

“I’ve given second chances my whole life,” he said, referring to his time with the Troy Police Department and on the council. “Some of them work out. Some of them don’t. He’s the one to blame,” Slater said, referring to Kischnick. “I wish we would have recognized (what was happening) and stopped him from going down the road he went down.”

Slater said he has no set plans for the future yet.

“Judy and I are going to take some time away.” But he plans to stay involved in the community.

To that end, through the Troy Community Foundation, he and his wife have established the Dane and Judy Slater Endowment. The Troy Community Foundation was formed in 2016 by a group of residents and business owners. According to its website, troycf.org, “The Troy Community Foundation is focused on supporting citizen-driven initiatives that promote the very best in our community.”

Proceeds from a fundraiser/farewell party for Slater held at the Melting Pot Oct. 16 will be used to start the endowment, which Slater said he wants to use to fund Troy Police Department community outreach and other needs the police have.

“My heart is with the Police Department, and I want to help with kids,” Slater said. “I want to give back. That’s why I went into the City Council.

“I’m very proud to have my name attached to the list of mayors of Troy. I never expected to do this. I’ve met so many great people and new friends.”

Each council member wished Slater well at the end of the Oct. 21 meeting.

“It’s been my honor to serve with you,” said Councilman Ed Pennington. “You have my respect and you always will.”

“We do have our differences and we work through them,” said Mayor Pro Tem Ethan Baker. He praised Slater for his special attention to those to whom the council gives a proclamation.

Councilwoman Ellen Hodorek said she will choose to remember “the good stuff,” and she thanked Slater for his efforts to make her part of the team as a first-time council member.

“I appreciate everything the council said tonight,” Slater said. “This is it,” he said, winding up his last council meeting. “We are adjourned.”

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