Source: Sherman Publications

Letter to the editor
Treasurer's view on Triumph lawsuit win

January 18, 2012

I feel compelled to respond to Mr. Woloson’s letter to the editor in the Jan. 11 edition ("Reader appreciates township victory").

He says, “Treasurer Curt Carson opposed renegotiating the Triumph Telecom contract. . .” That is not accurate. In fact, I contacted and then met with the owner of Triumph Telecom. I said the board would most likely not agree to continue paying Triumph 50 percent of the savings we were enjoying and that something more equitable would have to be worked out. In our meeting, he agreed to offer concessions to appease the board. That evening at the Township Board meeting, he offered the board approximately $12,300, in addition to a $4,000 credit he provided the township on their last invoice.

This would reduce Triumph's proceeds to about $82,000. The board rejected the offer.

What may have seemed like a simple money saving action in 2008, turned into something much more in 2010. In 2008, an Independence Township resident, who works for Triumph Telecom, came to promote his company’s ability to save the township money on its telephone bills. If agreed, Triumph would find the lowest cost carrier to provide phone service to the township. Triumph’s charge for this service would be 50 percent of the cost savings.

If the savings were small, it would hardly be worth their effort. If the savings were large it could be rather lucrative over the life of the contract. After reviewing the township’s phone bills, the company came back and showed the supervisor that the township could save approximately 66 percent or two thirds on its phone bill. That cost savings amounted to $5,460 a month, give or take. Under the agreement, Triumph Telecom would make approximately $2,730 a month for three years and the township would have a gross savings of about $196,700 for the same period. This all transpired during the last board term that ended at noon on November 20, 2008.

In simple terms, there happens to be law that when entering into a contract with a governmental municipality, the governing board must approve it to be binding. Whether the previous board knew about this contract or not or was leaving it up to the supervisor is not totally clear. In any case, there is no evidence that it came back to the board for approval.

When considering this issue, there were a number of other things to be concerned about, such as: the precedence that would be set; would this board and administration get stuck in a quagmire of endless reviews of previous board decisions that the current board did not like; the public image of the township reneging on a executed contract; the review of cost to benefit and what about the effects on the local businessman who believed he sold a service to the township in good faith. All of these things deal with time, money, resources, relationships and image.

The assertion that the township saved over $100,000 from winning its litigation over Triumph is also not accurate. Triumph was to receive an estimated $98,350, less the $4,000 credit they gave the township. In the end, the Township paid Triumph $12,600, plus through October 2010, the township has incurred legal expenses of over $43,000, with additional bills expected.

In the meantime the township has now experienced a gross savings of more than $196,700 on its telephone bills. Who should we thank for that?

Curt Carson

Independence Township Treasurer