The recent controversial appointment of an Almont Township Trustee is not an isolated, one time occurrence. A short three months ago the township board hired a new assessor. According to Supervisor Groesbeck the reason for the change of assessors was a personality conflict. He indicated that he was happy with Sheryl Sutter's (the last assessor) work and was very pleased with the working relationship he had with her. Mr. Groesbeck is the Chief Assessing Officer of Almont Township.
I have 22 years experience in assessment and assessment administration. I had several conversations with Sheryl Sutter, expressing my concerns with our assessments. She was very open and honest, informing me on what she was doing to create uniformity and fair assessments for township taxpayers.
In my opinion, Sheryl Sutter went far beyond her contractual obligations to correct questionable situations in our tax roll. Hours and hours of extra time was spent on the village assessments. The result was an unheard of lowering of the taxable value of the village. Because of her detail and proofs, the Lapeer County Equalization Depart-ment approved her work. Her work spoke for itself—she was working for the taxpayers.
I spoke by phone with Trustee Sweers prior to the meeting where her contract was not renewed. I tried to explain the work that had been done to improve tax roll conditions by Assessor Sutter. His response was "It's too late, she is gone."
As in the search for a trustee, the township board advertised for a new assessor. They received some resumes and did not interview the applicants. The reason given to me was that they knew all of the applicants. Sheryl Sutter also applied and was the most qualified candidate. I have no problem with the new assessors. My problem is with the actions of the Almont Township Board. Did the Township Board support Supervisor Groesbeck's report of the performance of Assessor Sutter? Why didn't Mr. Groesbeck vote to retain Assessor Sutter?
Should the level of services provided by the Almont Township Board be compromised by personality problems? In the situation it seems that personality conflicts far outweighed excellent job performance and job qualifications. Is it time that the Almont Township residents start evaluating the performance of the Almont Township Board? I think so!
You may or may not believe or agree with what I write—to that I say please take the time to attend Township meetings and form your own opinion.
Editor's note: Township Supervisor Gary Groesbeck said there has been no controversy surrounding the recent appointment to the township board.
Groesbeck said Sutter's contract was not renewed because a motion to do so failed in a 3-3 tie vote. Former trustee John Kalt was absent from the meeting, and Groesbeck and trustees Sweers and Rayl voted to retain Sutter. Casting dissenting votes were trustees Eschenburg, Hoffner and Moore. Therefore the contract was not renewed. The vote is reflected in the minutes of the meeting and reviewed by the township attorney.