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Township Board Ends Court Relocation Talks

Until Macomb receives assurance from Shelby that it would not be held responsible for certain costs after relocation, talks of the project have been terminated in Macomb.

As far as Macomb Township is concerned, the 41-A District Court will remain in Shelby Township.

Citing Shelby’s lack of assurance in regard to claiming responsibility for the court’s legacy costs (retiree health care), the Macomb Township board of trustees voted to close the and dissolve the finance and construction committees created during relocation talks at Wednesday's meeting.

“We found out that there is a liability for the cost of employee pension health care–retiree health care–and that retiree health care is a considerable amount of money,” said Clerk Michael Koehs. “All we wanted was to say that if Macomb Township built a new courthouse and we opened it up on Jan. 1, 2020, that’s the day we would start being responsible for (any costs) incurred after that date. Before that date it’s the current control unit’s responsibility, which is Shelby.”

Some 14 months after relocation talks began, Koehs said he has still not received anything from Shelby Township that acknowledges its responsibility for these costs.

“We did not want to end up in a court battle when they refused to pay it, saying that it’s (our) responsibility because (we) have the courthouse and running the risk of the judge saying, ‘Well Macomb, you took the courthouse so now you have responsibility for the thing and now the bill is yours,' so our people are now responsible for paying it," he said. 

Koehs added that without confirmation that the costs run up by Shelby would not be passed on with relocation, as far as Macomb Township is concerned, the project has been terminated.

This decision was met with some confusion by Shelby Township Treasurer Paul Viar, who said it was his understanding that Shelby had agreed to pay the legacy costs but was waiting for negotiations with court employees to be finalized before naming the legacy cost total.

“The press seems to know more than the people in it,” Viar said. “How in the world can we make legacy costs when we have no idea what they are?"

Koehs said although the project has been closed and the committees dissolved, should Shelby offer a resolution supporting relocation or give confirmation on the cost issue, the project would be reopened and the committees reinstated.

“We’re not trying to pressure Shelby, we’re just saying, we’re not going to keep this floating,” Koehs said.

Shelby Township Trustee Lisa Manzella said while she has always felt the court should remain in Shelby, she understands Macomb's frustration on this issue.

"They are accustomed to making decisions and finding solutions in an efficient
manner," Manzella said. "The ball is back in our court. We need to solve the problem, not be the problem."

Initial relocation talks were sparked when 41-A District Court judges approached Macomb Township and asked if the township would be in any position to help secure a safer facility. As Macomb could not enhance Shelby Township’s property, Koehs said building a new courthouse was the only option.

Within a month, the city of Utica had offered a resolution stating its support of relocation, but to date, Shelby has made no such resolution.

Matt Guarnieri May 12, 2011 at 03:52 PM
I don't believe the court will go into the red. Now that the actual court cost are figured separately from the general budget I believe the court will be forced to make cuts. As for a new building, maybe Obama and homeland security will foot the bill. if the court is hearing 30% less cases than 3 years ago, doesn't it make sense to cut their own work force 30%. it's the court employees own benefit package legacy cost that have sunk them. "People want to pay less in taxes now, not more", this one statement sums up the core reason for all my post.
Give credit where it’s due. I recall Lisa Manzella stating that Shelby Twp would be stuck covering the cost that the court has acquired over the years with the court leaving and not bringing any funds in. On top of that think of all the business our local business community will lose. That is why Macomb will not take over the court without Shelby Twp acknowledging the fact that they have to cover bills they created in the process of making the twp millions of dollars over the years. Now I can see why matt g lost his business, it’s your way of looking at the situation. Thanks Lisa for your insight into looking after the tax payers best interests. That’s why you received the most votes for trustee. Perhaps you need to take a full time job in the twp rather than a part time one because you’re showing up the full time politicians.
TRUTHSEEKER May 12, 2011 at 05:03 PM
I hope Manzella does run for a full-time job. It will be fun campaigning against her. And to your point, no she did not make the claims you state. She wanted to keep the court because she said the court was a “money maker” for the township. Financial reports have shown that the court is NOT a money maker - it is a money pit. Even people like Brian Pawlik see it (maybe there is hope for the Save Shelby people yet). Remember, Manzella wanted to spend $20 million for a justice center and force resident to pay higher taxes without a public vote. Rememeber, WITHOUT A PUBLIC VOTE. Build a mansion and them mortgage our future was Manzella's mantra. When you explain the truth to business owners, even they can see that the costs of relocation (if the court decides) are less than the costs of keeping this money drain operating in Shelby Township. Perhaps the court should follow the advice of our great governor and consolidate in Sterling Heights instead of building a palace in Macomb Township. That would save EVERYONE money - Shelby, Macomb, Utica and Sterling Heights. That likely won't happen because judges like new buildings to use as a campaign platform.
Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey May 13, 2011 at 06:48 PM
A comment was removed because it violated our terms of use. Please keep the discussion going, folks, but remember our terms of use: http://shelby-utica.patch.com/terms Back to the topic at hand: the courthouse in Shelby. Should it stay or should it go? Do you want it, Macomb Township?
Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey May 13, 2011 at 06:51 PM
User Kathy stated: "This forum should be used in a professional manner to discuss issues, not for character assassination." We agree!

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