Council, Commission, disagree on commission terms

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – A clerical error has caused contention —and talk of legal action — on a city commission.

Terms have ended for two members of the Fire and Police Civil Service Commission, according to the city’s records. The commission’s own records, however, tell a different story.

Gary Dell and Dale Lewis both served terms which expired in December. But commission members say Dell’s term does not expire until 2013, because of term limits voted on by the previous city council and mayor.

But the current council disagrees. By their records, Dell, who was appointed to replace late Commissioner Maurice Watters, should have served the remainder of Watters’ term, slated to expire Dec. 31, 2011, before being reappointed to an additional six-year term. The 2013 term limit, they say, was a mistake by the last council that is now part of the public record. Their records also show that Lewis’ term expires in 2013.

“I love being on the commission,” Lewis said. “But my term’s up by this paperwork. And that’s fine.”

Commissioner Malcolm Beaton said having two terms expire in 2011 violates Michigan Public Act 78, which requires commissioner terms to expire in two-year intervals. At a special meeting between the commission and the city Tuesday, he rejected an offer from councilors that the commission allow the council to fill the seat in question since Lewis and Beaton were selected by sitting commission members. The charter outlines that the council fill one of the three commission seats.

Beaton said he refused to give control of the selection to “politicians,” and threatened to file a lawsuit against the city if an agreement was not reached.

Dell said he would prefer not to file suit against the city, but would consider it after reviewing all available information.

The issue is to appear on the council’s Tuesday agenda.