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City short on payment for township services

February 09, 2011 - Clarkston owes Independence Township money, and they mean to collect.

Township Treasurer Curt Carson said the city owes $72,149.56 for fire, police and library services, third and fourth quarter, 2010 $3,886.76 outstanding from third quarter.

City Manager Dennis Ritter agrees they owe the township money, but not that much.

"We want to pay that money, but we want to pay the amount established in the contract," Ritter said.

According to contract, payment for services is based on total taxable value of property in the city as of Jan. 1 of each year.

In documents provided by former city Treasurer Jan Gilespie, that value as of Jan. 1, 2009, was $47,855,860. This figure was based on the "2009 Roll Change Summary" for Clarkston, a document produced by Oakland County.

Carson said the county document has been used by the village since about 2006.

Carson said after they billed the city for the third quarter, he was told by Ritter the value was incorrect instead of $47,855,860, it should be $44,143,080.

However, the $44 million figure is based on the city's tax bill as of July 1, after the March board of review has met and adjustments made by the Michigan Tax Tribunal.

"It can't possibly be ($44,143,080) because it wasn't the number on Jan. 1," Carson said.

"It's in the hands of the attorneys and has been," Ritter said. "We had an agreement and I continue to get statements with the State Equalized Value (SEV), even after we had the agreement."

That SEV is $47,261,000, which is also based upon the state tribunal's calculation.

Carson said the two figures, $47,855,860 and $47,261,000, are "two different numbers, two different dates."

Ritter also signed a Dec. 2010 letter that he acknowledged, understood, and accepted "the township will utilize the taxable value of all such property on the first working day of January stated on the 'Roll change Summary' report maintained and generated by Oakland County Equalization Department."

Trustee Neil Wallace said the document speaks for itself.

"It's just a definition of what January 1 means," he said. "January 1 does not mean April."

Wallace motioned for township attorney Steve Joppichto to write a letter to the city letting them know they're bound to the contract and "they should pay the bill." The board approved the motion 4-0 at the Feb. 1 regular meeting. Trustee David Lohmeier was absent.

"The contract should be waived in our favor after all we are the provider and if we're providing a service I think we should have the ultimate say in the terms of the contract," said Trustee Larry Rosso. "We should be in the driver's seat."

Trustee Mark Petterson agreed.

"I'm tired of playing around with this, I'm getting very frustrated," he said. "The township was very amicable in removing the administrative fees (10 percent), I'm second guessing that now."

Ritter said he does not want this to disrupt the relationship between the city and the township.

"This is very important to us and I think it's important to them," he said.

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.
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