The City of Saline has a new assessor.
City Council voted 7-0 to allow City Manager Todd Campbell to make a conditional job offer to Milan resident Robert Brazeau. Brazeau was recommended to city council by a search team to replace Catherine Scull, who retired after more than 20 years with the city.
Brazeau will work three days a week for an annual salary of $65,000. Brazeau requested part-time work because he works in Dundee two days a week and London one day a week. Brazeau has been in assessing since 1978. He has done appraisals on all classes of real and personal property, including commercial properties like Visteon Village in Van Buren Township. He told council that while working for Wayne County’s equalization division, his work added $1 million annually to the county’s revenue.
Despite the unanimous vote, council had some questions about Brazeau’s hiring.
Councillors Christen Mitchell and Janet Dillon both had questions about going to a part-time position and about Brazeau’s salary. Scull retired at the top of the salary structure, making $79,000 as a full-time assessor. Dillon and Mitchell questioned why Brazeau’s salary was so high for three days a week.
“That figure ($65,000) seems excessive when compared to Scull, a long-time full-time employee, now that we’re going to a part-time employee,” Dillon said, asking what warranted average hourly salary increase.
“It’s called the market. There are hardly any qualified assessors available who were willing to put in an application,” City Manager Todd Campbell said.
Councillor Dean Girbach, who served on the search committee, agreed.
“If you look at other communities, they’re facing the same issue. At this point in time, we didn’t see another option. We could have went to a private company, but then we might not have a single persona assigned to Saline’s assessing work,” Girbach said. “This option gives us an experienced individual and allows us to ramp up faster.”
Mitchell and Dillon both expressed concern about whether the assessor’s job can be done in three days. The assessor will continue to be assisted by a full-time city employee. Mitchell asked if Brazeau would have the time to handle tax tribunals.
Campbell said the city rarely has cases go to the tax tribunal. Brazeau assured council he could handle the load, noting that his 4.5-person staff in Wayne County handled up to 800 tax tribunal cases annually.
Dillon said she was concerned that going from a full-time to part-time assessor might reduce the level of service city residents and businesses expect.