City Manager, “Risk is too great in officers request for early buy out”


IMLAY CITY —There was a lengthy, spirited discussion Tuesday, April 4 at the Imlay City Commission meeting, regarding a potential “purchase of years” request from one of the city’s police officers.

Imlay City Manager Craig Horton

In the end, after hearing from an undecided board, Mayor Joi Kempf cast the deciding vote to not allow Corey Martin to buy five years of service to go along with his 15 years of service to the city.

Had the issue been approved, it would have cost Martin over $30,000 for the five years.

However, according to City Manager Craig Horton, the potential unknowns of interest rates and how the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System (MERS) calculates their formula left the city with a potential high risk of being left on the hook for what some commissioners called “potential financial disaster.”

According to Horton, the city is already $3.5 million dollars in the hole for unfunded liability, sitting at just 64% when they are supposed to be at over 80%.

Mayor Kempf said despite paying into MERS at the rate of over $200,000 per year in an attempt to get back to the acceptable level of funding, city officials continue to watch the percentage of funded liability dwindle.

At one time, several years ago, the city was funded at more than 80% but fluctuating financial components that go in to figuring the formula with MERS has changed over the years, causing the city’s level to decline, according to Horton.

Commissioner Barbara Yockey held her ground for being against the approval of the additional five years, due to financial risk for the city.

Mayor Pro-Tem Ted Sadler and Commissioner Bob Tanis agreed, lauding Martin for his dedication to the city, but they were not able to justify the risk of additional funds that could end up costing city residents.

Commissioners Joe DeLuca, Al Ramirez and Shane Collison all commented in favor of the five-year purchase, noting Martin’s service to the city and according to them, past precedent had allowed other former employees to buy additional years.

A roll call vote followed along the lines of how the commission members felt, ending in a 3-3 tie before Mayor Kempf cast the deciding vote with her “no” vote.

She stated, “It’s really hard because Corey has done a great job for the city. However, I just was not comfortable with the amount of potential risk, that it could end up costing taxpayers a lot of extra money that we don’t have.”

The commission asked City Manager Horton to explore an option they may have with MERS, to take the possibility of purchasing additional years out of their agreement.

Horton said he would report back to council at their next meeting later this month.

The next commission meeting is set for Tuesday, April 18 at 7 p.m.