A township in mourning

By: Elizabeth Scussel | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published September 22, 2015

 Dave Payne

Dave Payne


BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — Bloomfield Township residents and officials are mourning the sudden loss of Dave Payne, who served as township supervisor from 1999 to 2011.

On Sept. 11, Payne suffered a heart attack near his retirement home in Harbor Springs. He was 64.

“(Payne) was absolutely enjoying life. He was four years into retirement, enjoying life, enjoying golf. He was planning two invitationals for next year. It’s just a shame. There are two things you don’t have a choice on: when you’re born and when you die,” said Supervisor Leo Savoie.

Payne began working for Bloomfield Township in 1970 as a crew member of the Road Department. He was 19 years old and used the job to pay his way through college.

By 1975, Payne had worked his way up to the position of department head. He was the youngest person in Bloomfield Township history to hold the title.

In the following years, he worked his way from administrative assistant to treasurer, and eventually was appointed supervisor. In 2000, he was elected to that position, and he was re-elected in 2004 and 2008.

The former director of community relations for the township, Leslie Helwig, was hired by Payne shortly before he took his role as supervisor.

She worked with Payne for more than a decade, and their friendship remained.

“The qualities I respected in him as my boss were the same qualities I appreciated as we became friends over the years,” she said. “His ethical standards were above reproach, and he expected hard work from all of us. At the same time, (Payne) valued his family and his friends and enjoyed life to the fullest. He was quick to see the humor in a situation and start the laughter. I will miss him.”

According to township officials, Payne placed a strong emphasis on openness and communication with the public. He recognized the need for modern, professional management in all areas of local services and assembled a highly credentialed leadership team.

Under Payne, Bloomfield Township undertook a major capital project and built a new Public Services Facility and a New Senior Center. Renovations were made to fire stations, and there were improvements to the civic campus as a whole.

By 2010, the township campus had modern, efficient buildings, and in 2012, the Public Services Facility was officially named in Payne’s honor.

Under Payne’s leadership, the financial status of Bloomfield Township became so solid that in 2011, Standard & Poor’s upgraded its bond rating to AAA — the highest rating a governmental unit or a private entity can achieve.

“The staff and people of the township are grieving,” said Trustee Neal Barnett, calling Payne a true leader who was beloved at Township Hall and by residents.

Savoie said Payne was an inspiration to all — board members and employees alike.

“He led with dignity, integrity and intelligence, always considering first and foremost the interests of the people of Bloomfield Township. We have lost a great leader and a beloved friend. My heart goes out to his wife, his children and his grandchildren,” he said.

Payne is survived by his wife of 44 years, Debbie Payne, a son, a daughter and three grandchildren. He was a graduate of Oakland University.