2018-05-16 / News

Raises across the board in Elba Twp.

Benefits for trustees off the table
810-452-2609 • adietderich@mihomepaper.com

Elba Township Trustee Kelly Bales (left), Trustee Michael Stockman (center), and Clerk Rena Fountain discussed pay and benefits for township officials during a regular board meeting that lasted more than three hours Monday. 
Photo by Andrew Dietderich Elba Township Trustee Kelly Bales (left), Trustee Michael Stockman (center), and Clerk Rena Fountain discussed pay and benefits for township officials during a regular board meeting that lasted more than three hours Monday. Photo by Andrew Dietderich ELBA TWP. — Elba Township officials reached consensus on giving themselves and three staff members raises during a meeting that lasted more than three hours Monday morning.

Per consensus, the board agreed to give Township Supervisor Mike Boskee, Clerk Rena Fountain and Treasurer Nate Eashoo raises of 3 percent each. The bump in pay would be based on an annual salary of $31,644 for Boskee, $38,955 for Eashoo, and $42,355 for Fountain. (Boskee was not at the meeting.)

The board approved raises for non-elected officials — the Elba Township deputy treasurer, deputy clerk, and secretary — of $1 an hour for each position. The deputy treasurer currently makes $14.50 an hour, deputy clerk makes $16 an hour, and secretary makes $15 an hour.

Trustees, it was agreed, will get a $2,000 bump in pay annually — increasing their current level of pay from $3,900 a year to $5,900.

The proposed raises for the elected officials still needs to be put to a board vote following a public hearing, set for May 29. Any new raises would be effective July 1.

The board generally agreed on a need to bring pay for Elba Township officials in line with other Lapeer County townships.

Eashoo, chairing the meeting in place of Boskee, brought up the idea of raises for Boskee and himself.

Eashoo said Boskee deserved the raise in large part because of the “extra” work he does, such as overseeing the township’s sewer systems (where applicable) and serving as township sexton.

Township Trustee Tim Lintz noted that Boskee received a raise of “a couple of thousand dollars” within the last two years, and said “I don’t think he needs an increase right now.”

Following the discussion, however, board members came to consensus on the proposed pay increases.

Board members also discussed at length the idea of providing retirement and health care benefits for trustees.

Lintz noted that in his research of benefits for township trustees in Lapeer County “I found that in 15 of the 18 townships, trustees receive money toward a pension. Six townships of the 18 also offer them life insurance policies. Five of the townships also offer health insurance, some with dental and vision.”

In Elba Township, the elected supervisor, clerk, and treasurer — along with deputy clerk, deputy treasurer and clerk — are offered full benefits.

Benefits include life and health insurance, dental and vision insurance, as well as a pension.

They also have the option to receive a monthly payment — termed “in lieu of” — if they opt not to obtain benefits through the township.

Additionally, they annually receive an “in lieu of” lump sum payment that is intended to serve in place of any other type of retirement plan.

However, the township’s four trustees — Lintz, Kelly Bales, Michael Stockman, and Charles Franckowiak — don’t receive any benefits outside their normal pay.

“As an elected official, I am asking for the trustees to be offered the same benefits as the other Elba Township elected officials,” Lintz said. “I am not asking for anything more than they receive, only equal to what they receive. If the benefits change for them, they would change for the trustees. If they would be required to pay a portion, then the trustees would pay a portion. It would be equitably fair for all the elected officials.”

Lintz and Bales initially raised the idea last November.

In short, they argue a majority of their counterparts in other area town- ships have options for some form of benefits and they want the same thing.

Among other reasons, Lintz claims it doesn’t make sense for the township’s deputy clerk and deputy treasurer to have benefit options when the four township trustees don’t.

However, one of their fellow trustees, Michael Stockman, has consistently disagreed with the idea.

“I just don’t feel trustees should have health care,” Stockman said Monday. “I’m sorry. I disagree with it.”

During a break in the meeting — but while still seated at the dais — Stockman could be heard several times loudly telling Bales he thought the request was “out of line.”

On Monday, it was stated providing benefits for the four trustees who currently don’t receive any could cost about $18,000 annually.

When the meeting reopened, Stockman said he couldn’t justify the additional costs due to the fact the board of trustees meets twice a month and generally puts in a total of no more than five hours monthly. Eashoo also stated he couldn’t justify the costs.

Bales, however, pointed out that she serves as a township trustee at all times, and that her duties aren’t limited to when the board has its meetings.

Township board members spent a significant amount of time discussing several potential options for trustees to have benefits.

Those options included having the township cover a percentage of costs, having trustees cover all of their own health care costs but being allowed to sign up for the township’s group plan, and more.

In the end, a motion was made to give trustees the same benefit package as the supervisor, clerk, treasurer, reduce the amount of coverage (100 percent) made available through the package, add a provision to make contributions based on a percentage of salary, or take an “in lieu of” payment of a maximum of $165 a month (also based on salary).

The motion failed by a vote of 2-5 with Lintz and Bales casting the only votes in favor of the motion.

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