May 01, 2013 - When the citizens of Addison Township elected the township board in 2008 there was "some cleaning to do on contracts," said Supervisor Bruce Pearson.
According to Pearson they went through every contract in 2008-09 and put many of them out to bid, but two contracts they didn't put out to bid were their attorney Robert Davis and their planner Rand Bowman.
"I don't remember why we didn't put them out to bid, but I remember those are the two most valuable people we recognized that we wanted to keep in this township for their dedication. They understand this township and they understand this administration," Pearson said.
By two separate votes the board voted 7-0 to approve a three year extension for both the attorney and planner contracts.
Speaking of Davis specifically, Pearson said he is a man the township trusts.
"I have a lot of faith in Mr. Davis. He has really been a friend to this township and I definitely enjoy his company and I know where he stands on township issues," Pearson said. "Mr. Davis has saved this township significant funding by taking over the account, lowering his retainer fees, lowering his hourly fees also. He did that previously (in his prior contract).
According to the contract the township pays Davis a yearly retainer fee of $15,000, which applies to 12 regular meetings, routine phone calls, routine opinion letters and routine preparation of agenda items. Other general municipal services that are non-litigation are $95 an hour; all district court, circuit court, and federal court litigation as assigned are $100 an hour and all appellate litigation, state and federal are $115 an hour.
"We do have a procedure in place where we have all of our cases brought up on a single day which saves us money and we are recouping whatever fees we can," Pearson added. "If we do have a trial we try to get restitution."
Pearson also said that Davis gets along with all of township department heads and if anyone has questions or needs advice they are free to ask Davis, which is something Trustee Ed. Brakefield is thankful for.
"At one time the legal directions were locked out for the trustees, we couldn't just contact legal and asked a question we had to route it through the administration. It made it very difficult," Brakefield said. "Since Mr. Davis, he's opened the door to all of us, so if we ever had an issue we wanted to keep private we could contact him and ask him an opinion."
Like Davis for legal issues, Pearson has great faith in Bowman for planning issues.
"I've had to call Mr. Rand several times and he's always had an answer for me and always in great detail," he said.
Another reason for wanting to keep Bowman is because Addison Township is considered "unique" by the residents and Pearson believes Bowman works hard to honor that uniqueness.
"Some planners believe they have to show they're churning ordinances or they are bringing in all kinds of development to show their existence," he said. "I think Mr. Rand knows we have a plan for Addison Township which is to keep it rural and we like our way of life. We don't want a planner to tell us what we need. We tell the planner how we want our township to proceed."
Pearson also pointed out that Bowman took a big cut in salary when they negotiated his contract three years ago and it's a cost Bowman is willing to stay at, which equates to a 42 percent decrease in cost from the prior agreement reflective of the existing economic times requisite level of development activity.
According to the contract Bowman is to be paid a monthly retainer fee of $2,400. Things included in that with no additional cost include annual master plan review, zoning ordinance text amendments, and annual planning commission orientation/training on topics of mutual consent.
"We could go out and seek bids and they may be lower, but we've cut spending in many areas and I think this is one of those areas where we have to keep our guard up," Pearson said. "I think Mr. Rand is the man for that job."
Brakefield who is also on the planning commission and sits next to Bowman agreed.
"One thing Rand does is he allows the planning commission to make the decisions. He will not tell us what to do. He gives us all the documentation we need to make a wise decision and he allows us to make that decision," Brakefield said. "Rand is worth it."
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.