By TEREASA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers
RIVERVIEW – There’s no denying Bill Towle has lobbied and ridden the tumultuous waves, but Monday he will take a seat on the city council, complete with an agenda.
“I want more transparency from this council,” said Towle, noting that he is aware he has only one vote.
He wants to see the study sessions, budget reviews and year-end financial statements televised.
“That’s really where the decisions are made,” Towle said. “That’s where the nuts and bolts are.”
Included in that transparency is posting labor contracts on the city’s web site.
“(This is) so residents can see what are the actual commitments made to our employees,” Towle said. “In the past they failed to report those changes in contract language that added substantial cost to our unfunded pension liability.”
Towle also would like to see residents not limited to two questions at council meetings.
Other items of contention Towle would like to see addressed include amending the pension ordinance to eliminate what he deems “abuses” that he said are costing the city millions.
“We are only one of four communities in the state that pay into Social Security benefits for the police, but are not held to the same standard for collecting those benefits as the residents that are paying the cost,” Towle said.
In addition, the new councilman urges contracts be competitively quoted.
“No more single source contracts,” he said. “When a contract is issued, no more change orders can be issued that exceed 10 percent of the contract amount without securing competitive quotes.”
For example, he said, the base contract for the city attorney is approximately $86,000, but the cost in this year’s budget is projected to be approximately $575,000.
He would also like to see city administrators meet with residents who have complaints. Towle cited that in 2007 when he had issues, up until recently, administrators refused to meet with him. His only option was to voice his complaints at city council meetings.
“For example I filed misconduct complaints against the city prosecutor and two detectives,” Towle said, “but the current and past administrators refused to meet (with me.)”
He said their response was if there was wrongdoing, then Towle should contact the Michigan State Police.
Another item Towle wants to see is monthly reports from the city manager and police chief regarding all criminal activity in the community.
Towle is filling the seat vacated by newly elected Mayor Andrew Swift for the remaining two years of his term. The seat was offered to retired city employee Mark Drysdale, who died Nov. 10. The seat was later offered to Towle.
Despite harsh words exchanged between Towle and current council members, he doesn’t think that will impact his time on the council.
“I can work with anyone,” he said.
(Tereasa Nims can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)