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Berkley Public Safety Contract Saves $47,000

The City Council recently approved an agreement with BPS Deputy Director Robert North that will keep him on board through July 16, 2013.

Berkley recently approved a one-year contract for Deputy Director Robert North that will save the city approximately $47,000.

Under the contract – which the City Council approved July 16 – North will be considered an at-will, nonunion employee with a salary reduction of approximately 5 percent and an increase in leave time.

North is retired from the department and receiving benefits, City Manager Jane Bais-DiSessa said Monday. Even so, keeping him on as a contract employee saves the city versus hiring someone new at full pay and with full benefits, she said.

"In terms of time and money, we're saving money," Bais-DiSessa said. "Just by him contracting alone, he has been able to save the city $47,000 and that's a significant amount of dollars the city doesn't have to pay."

She said that under the contract, North will not receive overtime, accrued leave or longevity pay. He will receive insurance through the city's retirement fund rather than its general fund under the contract that runs from July 17 through July 16, 2013, Bais-DiSessa said.

The contract stipulates that North "must continue to hold, State of Michigan certifications of Firefighter and Police officer."

"The Deputy Director is second in command of all operational function within the Public Safety Department and exercises supervisory control over its personnel, reporting only to the Director," the contract says.

North will be paid up to $73,566 for the year, or $35.3683 per hour, according to the contract; he also will receive 160 hours of leave and 80 hours of sick leave "to be utilized on a use it or lose it basis."

"I think we're all pleased that we're going to have him for at least another year," City Attorney Dale Schneider said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that BPS Deputy Director Robert North retired from the Berkley Public Safety Department.

Lori R July 23, 2012 at 08:02 PM
I'm confused. Didn't he retire? If so, isn't he receving retirement benefits from the City of Berkley? How is this saving money if we're paying a retired employee 76k on top of his benefits? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the City asking for a millage increase because we're so poor to help pay for Public Safety? Didn't the city say we may lose public safety if the millage isn't passed? It seems to me that we'd be saving a whole heck of a lot of money if the Public Safety Department made cuts on their own in terms of salaries. What is the City Manager making and what are we giving her in perks (a car perhaps)? C'mon, a city manager does not need us to pay for perks. It's a job. My employer pays me to come in a work ~ as do a lot of employers. It's time to make sacrifices and give up the perks instead of asking the residents for more money. Furthermore, Berkley PD needs to clean it up. Here we go again with yet another law suit. What's going on over there? Who's making these poor decisions and why is that person (s) still in that position? There are other ways to save money ~ this isn't one of them. I'm voting NO until the department starts making better decisions.
Leslie Ellis July 23, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Hi, Lori! I just spoke with City Manager Jane Bais Di-Sessa to address your questions about BPS Deputy Director North. Yes, he did retire and is receiving benefits. Even so, she said, keeping him on as a contract employee is saving the city versus hiring someone new at full pay and with full benefits (AND paying North retirement benefits). She said she'd be happy to speak with you if you'd like to call her at 248-658-3350.
WECARE July 23, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Why did they have to hire him if the city is so poor was her question...instead of making cuts....right before residents vote on paying more taxes. That's a lot of money.
Cindy July 23, 2012 at 09:07 PM
We do not need a deputy chief. In a department of about 16 or 17 officers that money should have been spent putting an officer on the road. In the tribune on 7/21 the article said if the millage doesnt pass public safety will be cut or eliminated?! Come on Berkley! Enough stupid decisions.
Leslie Ellis July 23, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Ah, I see what you mean, Bill. I will ask that question and include the answer in upcoming coverage. Berkley Patch will be at the town hall meeting tomorrow, so we'll have a report on that as well.
Steve Herrington July 23, 2012 at 10:07 PM
The budget problem is the Benefits paid out. Those of us that work in the private sector no longer receive Pensions, we have Self funded 401k programs which my employer contributes a 2% match. We have health insurance if we're lucky with deductibles like $2500 per person and it doesn't even cover office visits. we receive no COLA and raises are unheard of anymore, in fact cuts are all we ever hear. We've all taken pay and benefit cuts if we're lucky enough to still have a job and you keep coming to us for More money, it's insane! Start sharing in the pain, eliminate the cushy pensions, the rest of us will be working to nearly 70 years of age to collect our social security. My next door neighbor just lost his job, pharmecutecal companies making huge cutbacks, that's the reality in the private sector! Go back to the bargainig table and quit putting your hands out and threatening us with reduced services.
Lianne Mathie July 23, 2012 at 10:12 PM
My understanding of the millage is that it will include operating cost for several things, along with police and fire. It will also cover the library,parks, public works etc. I know that Officer Norths contract is a renewal from last year.I can only speak from personal experience but I have found him very helpful on occasion along with the other officers from Berkley.I want to maintain their services along with everything else that makes Berkley comfortable to live in. That being said, I don't know what the actual cost of hiring a officer with his skill and experience would cost Berkley right now on the open market.Having that information would be helpful as well.
Steve Herrington July 23, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Don't get me wrong Officer North is a fine officer and a huge asset to our city. However, in private industry in this economy his position would of been eliminated. His duties would of been split between existing personnel in the department, that's how you save money.
Lianne Mathie July 23, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Steve, I agree with many of your points, Lord knows that our house has been really pinched, no health insurance here. That was the past. With that being said, the one stable investment left is our house, and not too stable at that. There are some things that need to be looked in to, there was talk of eliminating code enforcement, with all the rentals popping up and the problems, we need more, not less. code enforcement. Police too. I have no reason to believe that the city is being dishonest, I would like actual breakdowns of pensions, benefits etc, specific to each position with in the city.The pie charts just don't do it for me. I looked at what it was going to cost us at our current taxable value for this upcoming millage override and I land on the side of yes, although I may be rolling change to pay for it, it's what I think is best for our community.
Lori R July 24, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Thank you, Leslie, I appreciate your follow up. I would be happy to hear Ms. Di-Sessa's comments.
Steve Herrington July 24, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Lianne, if people can't afford to keep their homes it forces more forclosures which lowers our home values. The way the public sector unions have it set up, there is a lot of fat yet to be cut in pensions, over-time pay, umpteen paid days off, benefits and healthcare policies that we in the private sector can only dream of. As the economy improves, the city will take in more tax dollars with increasing property values. It does us no good to keep pushing people out of their homes with "just" a couple hundred more here and a bit more there. Is the problem our pockets are never deep enough or are we not spending within our means?
M Kerby July 24, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Does anyone actually pay attention to what goes on at city hall? The full price for a command officer even with todays union concessions is almost double what we are paying for North. He is now a city contractor = no benefit package and legacy costs. It's basic buisiness 101. Our leadership team has cut corners and re-negotiated the union contracts to maximize the benefit for the taxpayer at the cost of our employees, many of whom are our friends and neighbors.Berkley's fiscal management is very impressive when compared directly to other cities in the area, I invite anyone to prove me wrong. Could some things have been managed better- of course, but the overall track record clearly speaks for itself. Berkley does more with less every single day. I will be supporting the increase because I do care about the quality of city I live in! If anyone wants some actual facts please contact our finance director his door is always open.
Lianne Mathie July 24, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Steve, I have looked at Berkley's finances and while I agree public sector employees have in the past, been given some cushy packages, I don't believe that is the case here. I have known many people that have been foreclosed on, the circumstances where through lose of jobs, greedy bankers unwilling to modify loans , inflated property values etc. My cost for this override, around 70 dollars.To keep my streets clean, pick up tree branches, haul away my yard waste spring and fall.To hire a private service to do just these few things would cost me far more. It's cost effective for me in that light. I would suggest that people look in to the actual cost of these services on the open market and weigh them against what the city is proposing. My big beef is up in Lansing where we pay our fine representatives full time pay with benefits for 180 days of work, If it were up to me I say cut the fat from the top down, the cities have been pinched and in turn, so are we by a bloated Lansing.
Rick E July 25, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Why does the Berkley Public Safety need a Director, Deputy Director, Lt. and 6 Sgts. for a department of 27 officers? The ratio is 1 supervisors to 2 officers. Eliminating the Deputy Director would save the city $120,000. Eliminate the two sgt positions. Combine the detective and juvenile division and eliminate one position. Reorganize and eliminate some ranks will not only save more money but put more officers on the road for patrol. If mutual aid with Highland Park is such a great asset, why is Berkley the only city in Oakland County involved. This a waste of department personnel and equipment. It time for the Director to stopped taking care of his buddies! This is just the tip of the money mismanagement. Take care of business before you ask for more money!
Steve Herrington July 25, 2012 at 06:49 PM
It's easy to ask for more money, it's time to make the tough cuts that nobody likes to do.
Richard Weed August 08, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Even better, get rid of this "director", whose reign has been highly questionable, and appoint North as Director. Millions will be saved as he will likely be less prone to invite litigation for wrongful death and ethnic discrimination as the current director has.

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