AP expands Plante & Moran contract

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – The city is expanding efforts to tie-up its loose budgetary ends.

The City Council voted at a special meeting Wednesday to expand interim financial manager Plante & Moran’s contract from three to five days a week.

The additional days, for an added cost of $10,000, will allow the firm to complete a state audit of the 2010-11 budget, which ended June 30, and complete the current budget. The $20 million general fund budget was approved July 1, but water and sewer, solid waste and other budgets still need to be approved and submitted to the state this month, City Administrator John Zech said.

Additionally, the firm must submit a deficit elimination plan to the state or risk a share of its $200,000 in annual revenue sharing.

Zech requested the change because the workload was not being completed with the three Plante & Moran representatives assigned to the city hall three days a week. The change would also allow for one representative to be there five days a week.

“They are doing a fine job,” Zech, who was hired Aug. 25 to fill the vacancy created by David Tamsen’s move to the city attorney position, said. “But they are only here three days a week. So, in your own jobs, if someone said to you ‘I only want you to show up three days a week, but I’m not going to reduce your workload,’ little by little, you’d start to get further and further behind.”

The expansion is scheduled to extend until the November general election, Zech said.

“It is my hope that all of these items are resolved by the end of October before the vote so that the new council and mayor won’t have to make these decisions then,” Zech said.

Mayor Felice Lalli voiced his commitment to finalizing the city’s finances as quickly as possible.

“If we have to have a meeting every week, we’ll have a meeting every week,” Lalli said. “There will be a workshop every week, and in between.”

But the news did not sit well with everyone. Resident Bryan Diebolt, who attended the meeting, mentioned that cost-saving measures were not occurring fast enough to stop the city from losing $350,000 a month, a figure Plante & Moran reported at the Aug. 23 council meeting.

“What did you do today to cost save?” Diebolt asked. “If we’re losing $350,000 a month, that equates to $12,000 a day. What did you do for cost saving today, mayor?”

Zech fielded that question, saying since he’s been in the position, department heads have worked every day to look at fee structures and expenses and prepare to make recommendations on changes to the current budget to city council by Tuesday’s city council meeting.

“That’s basically all I’ve been doing every day since I got here,” Zech said.