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Posted on Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

Council member concerned after Ypsilanti fills $54K assistant to city manager position

By Katrease Stafford

The hiring of an assistant to the city manger at a salary of $54,900 has at least one Ypsilanti City council member concerned that the move isn't in line with the city's efforts to save money.

"I understood that we really were on a mission to save money and not expand," Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson said. "With that, I know that some of our staff took on additional responsibilities and they had also taken a 5 percent cut and have not received a raise... I really understood that we weren't going to be hiring."


City Manager Ralph Lange said the hiring of Ericka Savage as the assistant to the city manager was necessary.

Courtney Sacco I

City Manager Ralph Lange said the hiring of Ericka Savage as the assistant to the city manager was necessary. Lange said one of her main responsibilities will be to find additional ways to save money. Savage's official start date is Wednesday, March 20.

"She's $27,000 less than the person she's replacing and she's coming in at tier two (benefits)," Lange said. "The bottom line is she has to do things, especially with SEMCOG, that will have a return on investment (that will either) save us money or make a return on money… I think she can more than pay for herself."

Lange was referring to the former director of administrative services, David Kowal, who resigned in July to take a job in Kalamazoo. Kowal had a salary of $82,400.

Lange said Savage will assist in making the SEMCOG report become a reality, as well as several other projects "waiting in the wings."

Ypsilanti received a SEMCOG report earlier this year that outlined several ways the city can save money by creating an additional $2 million in cost reductions and revenue enhancements across all funds beyond the level spelled out in the city's five-year budget plan.

The city received more than 200 applications for the position in February and similar to when the city was searching for a deputy police chief, council did not approve the hires. In lieu of a public interview process, a committee was created to interview the applicants.

Savage has served as an alternate officer to the city's administrative hearing board since April 2012 and obtained her juris doctorate from the Michigan State University College of Law.

Savage also attended the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research where she was the 2009 fellow for the Michigan Political Leadership program.

In addition to three years of state legislative experience, Savage served six years with the Pontiac where she served as deputy city attorney and legislative auditor.

In a statement, Savage said she is thrilled for the opportunity to work in a larger capacity for the city.

"I look forward to assisting the city manager in implementing the SEMCOG recommendations," Savage said. "More importantly, I look forward to a bright future for Ypsilanti."

Lange said since Savage was hired after Jan. 1, she will receive a different benefits package compared with those hired beforehand. In February, the city council approved several benefits changes including less vacation time and a different pension package.

The city's employee makeup has changed over the years. In 2012, the city lost 15 employees who either retired or resigned. Altogether, those employees' wages amounted to $1,030,374. Thirteen of those 15 employees were unionized employees from the police and fire departments.

Richardson is asking Lange to consider restoring the 5 percent pay cut for the city's employees and eliminating furlough days.

"To continue with that 5 percent cut or furlough is really unfair," Richardson said.

Lange said as soon as he gets through working on the city's budget, he plans to work on the concerns regarding furlough days and pay cuts. Lange noted that those hired after Jan. 1 will not take any furlough days, but Richardson believes that should include employees hired prior to that date as well.

"That is definitely a goal of mine," Lange said.

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.



Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 5:09 p.m.

It is unfathomable, albeit laughable, for Lange to even begin to justify and defend this new hire. Lange promised much upon his hire but has delivered virtually nothing. He represented himself as a seasoned economic development expert but, not surprisingly, he has failed to accomplish one tangible result. Stating that this new employee will "pay for herself" is nothing short of absurd! It is our understanding that, not only did Lange fill this wholly unnecessary position, he actually gave our city planner a fancy new title along with a big pay increase. Why the constant lack of transparency in Ypsilanti city government? What more is being hid from the public and, more importantly, why is it allowed to continue? Perhaps Ms. Stafford can serve the citizens by investigating the truth/facts surrounding the city planner's alleged promotion/pay increase.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 11:03 a.m.

No Family Dollar no Assistant.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 5:05 a.m.

The new hire has a 1999 MSU Marketing degree and a 2002 MSU degree in Law. It appears she lives in Oakland County. She was previously employed by the City of Pontiac; was terminated and she sued them in Federal Court. Her case went to the Federal 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. Yins can go to this link to figure-out the result.

Ypsi Eastsider

Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 2:26 a.m.

Government does not make money, they only spend taxpayer money. City hall employees haven't had their pay frozen, they received step increases as their jobs descriptions were changed thus making more than they ever have. It is police and fire they have shouldered the brunt of the cuts, the spending at 1 S Huron keeps going up an up.

Megan Turf

Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 12:41 p.m.

And YPD didn't take cuts, they laid off officers instead. The YFD however agreed to a pay cut.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 2:48 a.m.

This is just plain wrong YE. So completely wrong.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 2:43 a.m.

You really don't know what's going on do you YE? City hall has been cutting salaries and cutting hours on top of that consistenly. Spending at city hall is way way way down. If you refuse to understand that you might as well stop wasting our time here.

Andrew Jason Clock

Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 1:21 a.m.

I could be wrong here, but I seem to remember that it was announced that this position would be filled months ago, and that there was even an story that at least mentioned this position being filled. And then there was a committee formed to hire the person that presumably included staff and council members. Wouldn't any of those times have been the time to raise these concerns about hiring someone to fill this position, instead of after the person was hired? And of course everyone involved with the city would like to restore pay cuts and eliminate furlough days, but, um. we're broke. That's why this new person was hired at around 1/3 the salary of the previous employee and reduced benefits. It's great that as a member of council she is concerned with the bottom line and employee well being, but it would be nice if her thoughts on the subject were a little more grounded in reality.

Megan Turf

Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

If she was hired at 1/3 the other guy was making she'd have been hired at less than $30k. The previous guy was making $82k and she's making $54k. That's 2/3s the salary of the previous employee. Not 1/3.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 10:31 p.m.

So everyone else in City Hall does two or three jobs while Lange does half a job?

Megan Turf

Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

You took my comment! lol! :) not only city hall, but we're laying off fire fighters so that cops can do the fire fighting on top of their regular law enforcement duties. I want to know when Lange is going to strap a plow to the front of his city owned vehicle and join the ranks getting "cross trained". He seems to be the only one getting someone to take his duties instead of taking on additional ones.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 10:30 p.m.

What's the problem? Everyone needs an assistant to help them do their job, especially if the tax payers are responsible for the tab. Go figure! Oh - kinda like multiple school superintendents, eh?!


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 9:37 p.m.

Way to talk out of both sides of your mouth, Ms. Richardson. If her concern is that hire isn't in line with the city's efforts to save money, then why is she proposing paying everyone else more. Not that that don't deserve it; I strongly believe they do. No one person should be trying to cover the jobs of two or three full-time employees and have to do it for less money than they were being paid for one job. She can't have it both ways, however.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 4:02 a.m.

Solitude, I love the way you throw out "no one person should be trying to cover two or three full time employees". First; There is no way one person could ever do 2 full time jobs proficiently or physically for any length of time, if they are truly full time positions requiring 8 consistant hours of dedicated labor. Three would be impossible. What is likely the case is that over the years one full time government position turned into three or four full time positions and the division of labor required only 2 full hours of dedicated labor to perform each full time position.


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 9:38 p.m.

...Not that *they* don't deserve it....


Wed, Mar 20, 2013 : 9:33 p.m.

This was originally posted in today's article about Richardson's call for a moratorium on marijuana facilities in the city, but I believe it's very appropriate here, also: " TheDiagSquirrel 1:36 PM on 3/20/2013 As a Ypsilanti taxpayer, I believe we need a moratorium on Lois Richardson's political career." All I would add is, "Amen."