Aug. 10--A judge found Taylor Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand guilty of contempt today and ordered him to pay expenses -- including attorney fees -- as a result of court proceedings in a dispute over an $8.1 million federal grant to recall laid-off firefighters.
"These costs will be borne by Mr. Lamarand personally and not by the city of Taylor," Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Macdonald ruled.
On Monday, Macdonald gave Lamarand 24 hours to accept a two-year Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Lamarand sent a letter to the judge and FEMA officials on Tuesday, saying he could not comply with the judge's order because the city didn't have the money to pay the non-federal share of costs associated with the grant -- a requirement to take the money.
Lamarand accepted the grant Friday before the hearing. The change of heart came after the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1252, which represents Taylor firefighters, voted on a memorandum of understanding Thursday night that requires firefighters to cash in their unused vacation and sick time during the grant period so the city can use the grant to pay those costs, Lamarand said.
"This action will save the taxpayers $1.2 million that we could not fund or afford otherwise," Lamarand said.
Union secretary Jim Hubbard confirmed the vote passed.
Macdonald also fined Lamarand $250 and said he committed perjury earlier this week by testifying that he would comply with the court order to accept the SAFER grant. She said she contacted the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office about it.
A spokeswoman with the prosecutor's office said they have not received a warrant request and are unaware of any investigation.
"We have no comment on any allegations," prosecutor's office spokeswoman Maria Miller said. "If a person believes a crime has been committed, they are advised to report it the police. This situation is no different."
After court, Lamarand said he didn't recall saying he would comply with the order and said he was taken aback when the judge referenced it in court.
"I don't believe the question was asked of me -- are you going to comply in 24 hours?" he said. "At this point I can't speak to it because I don't recall the situation happening in that manner."
Lamarand said he would review the order to pay attorney fees with legal council. John Barr -- the attorney hired by the city council --estimated his fees at about $13,253 through Friday.
The grant allows the city to recall some of the 32 laid-off firefighters; eight have already returned to work unrelated to the grant. The matter has pitted some council members against the mayor and has divided residents, some of whom showed up in court.
Three city council members were with Barr in court, including John Delo, Jacklyn Molner and Rick Sollars.
"It's always been about the safety of the people of the city of Taylor," Delo said. "The ability of the city to pay that money has always, always been there."
Meanwhile, council chairwoman Cheryl Burke, who voted not to hire an attorney, also attended the hearing and supported the mayor's position.
"We have a strong mayor form of government," Burke said. "I believe that the mayor is the only one who will have to answer for operations and the financial catastrophes that can happen in our city, and therefore, he should be the one making those decisions."
Contact Elisha Anderson: 313-222-5144 or email@example.com
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