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Posted on Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Ypsilanti City Manager: No way around it, jobs will be lost

By Katrease Stafford

In order to ensure the city is on “financially solid” footing, incoming Ypsilanti City Manager Ralph Lange said tough choices will be made in the upcoming months that will result in job loss.


Ralph Lange

via Henry County website

The Ypsilanti City Council voted unanimously to approve Lange’s contract June 29 and council members said they are ready for Lange to get started immediately.

“This was a hard agreement to come to,” Mayor Paul Schreiber said. “Mr. Lange is keenly aware of the situation we’re in.”

As discussed in past meetings, the city of Ypsilanti is facing a possible $4 million deficit for fiscal year 2016 and $4.6 million in 2017. The council approved two city budgets that staved off layoffs during its June 5 meeting.

Lange said he is fully acknowledging the fact that his proposed plans down the line to get the city back on track may be “widely unpopular” to the city and its residents.

“A lot of people are going to lose their jobs and it’s just no way around that,” Lange said. “I don’t want to make it convenient or easy just because there are 50 people in here screaming. I have to do the job. It’s going to be difficult and everyone knows that.”

Although job loss is unfortunate in any circumstance, Lange said it has to happen.

“The choices are not going to be all good for everyone because someone losing their job is one of the worst things you can do to somebody, especially in this environment and especially in the public sector, but it’s going to have to be done,” Lange said.

“I’m here to do my job and I know it's not going to be popular but hopefully the city will survive and we’ll be in stronger position, but I need a little bit of time to get to that.”

Council member Pete Murdock said council is well aware that the city manager will face some scrutiny.

“One of of the reasons we hired you is that you’re going to make those decisions and not everyone is going to be happy, in fact most people won't be happy,” Murdock said to Lange.

Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson said she believes Lange will make choices necessary to move the city forward.

“I get the feeling from Mr. Lange that he does have the city’s interest at heart and I feel that he will work hard,” Richardson said. “It’s not just another job and he does somewhat feel the pulse of what’s going on.”

Before approving the $93,500 contract, the council amended part of Lange’s contract regarding termination and severance pay.


Ypsilanti City Hall

File photo |

Under the contract, Lange is an “at-will” employee. Because of this, nothing in his contract can prevent, limit or otherwise interfere with the right of council to terminate his employment at any time. In light of that, Lange is subject to severance benefits.

If Lange is terminated for something other than just cause prior to the expiration of his agreement, the contract originally stated that his employment would be terminated 180 days from the date of his termination notice.

Following the notice, Lange would have remained on city payroll for 180 days, during which he would receive all health, life, disability, dental and vision insurance benefits.

The majority of the council was not comfortable with the 180 days provision. Council member Brian Robb said he thought it was “too excessive.”

“We’re giving out a $7,800 healthcare waiver, which is $3,800 more than employees get, and we’re also giving a residency bonus,” Robb said.

Robb said he agreed with most of what was in the contract but when all of the benefits and pay are added together, Lange stands to accrue more than previous manager, Ed Koryzno— especially if Lange’s contract was terminated.

“If things don’t work out that really puts us on the hook for $47,000,” Robb said.

After 20 minutes of discussion, City Attorney John Barr changed the language in the contract to say that Lange, if terminated, woud be entitled to 90 days of severance and benefits pay.

Lange said he was OK with the amendment.

“I’m here and I want to work,” he said. “I can’t imagine any scenario that this won’t be my last job.”

Lange, the current executive director of the Henry County Improvement Corporation, will start July 30. His contract will be effective until July 30, 2017 and at that point, further negotiations may take place to discuss a possible contract extension.

Katrease Stafford covers the city of Ypsilanti for Reach her at You can also follow her on Twitter.



Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 5:46 p.m.

The City of Ypsilanti along with many other cities, towns, villages and townships have been poorly managed for years. Voters vote people into office without really knowing anything about the person running for the office, then never follow up on how they are doing at the job. In most private jobs people have their supervisor/manager review their job performance yearly, if they are not doing the job they were hired for the employee is "at will" firer by the employer. The City of Ypsilanti deserves what they get. A few years ago my husband worked as temp, he was not hired on because the supervisor told him he did not "fit in", they hired another guy instead. The reasons was he did not fit in was because he complained about the full time union workers not working the full 8 hours. They would load the trucks with yard tools and leave the yard to rake leaves get back in the trucks and return to the yard to take their 15 minute morning break, go back to the city streets to rake leaves get back in the trucks and return to the yard to take an hour lunch, go back to the city streets then back in the trucks for their afternoon break….get the picture. The total time the city union workers raked leaves in an 8 hour day was at best 4 ½ hours. The waste of gas and time is what my husband complained to the supervisor about.

Lloyd Payer

Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 11:18 p.m.

check his records as road commissioner in monroe have you seen there roads but they had tax payer money to remodel his house look out you been duked again t hat a fact


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 9:10 p.m.

Six weeks ago he said this: "Lange acknowledged a tough budgetary picture but also said the city used 'excessively conservative' estimates and the situation may not as bleak as thought. He questioned some of the assumptions about the pension system and inflation, for example, and said one of his first steps will be to examine the city's assumptions and actuaries. Lange said he isn't certain the city will have to lay off seven firefighters, as has been proposed, and that is contingent on retirements. He said even if there are retirements, the city may still be able to save some of those positions." Now he's saying something that's almost exactly opposite. Did he not have information to offer an informed opinion then, or now? Why not simply say how excited you are to "get to work" and then shut up until you actually get here and see what's what?

greg, too

Sat, Jul 7, 2012 : 4:14 a.m.

None of us have had real information. We were told that if both of the votes failed, the city would have to cut first responders severally and then they found a balanced budget without any (true, with retirements). Who knows what numbers he saw prior to taking the job.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 8:58 p.m.

He hasn't even started yet, and he thinks he already has enough information to make predictions? Really? I'd have much more respect for someone who says they're ready to make the tough decisions, but then has the sense to actually get on the job and find out a few things before making unilateral declarations, either positive or negative.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.

Yspi lays off cops and firefighters, the state unemployment rate goes up, the Republicans blame it on Obama in hopes that he will lose the next election. But its the Republican mindless tax cuts that have driven the loss of thousands of teaching and public safety jobs in Michigan. The coup being the $1.8B cut in the states business tax. The Rickster and his merry band of Republicans believe that cutting business taxes will stimulate them to create more jobs. But, just the opposite is in effect, cutting all these good paying jobs decreases demand for goods and when demand is down, businesses do not hire. The Republicans have been cutting taxes for thirty years and the only thing that has increased for thirty years is the National Debt.

greg, too

Sun, Jul 8, 2012 : 7:28 a.m.

Personally, I blame Canada. And Kaiser Sose.


Sat, Jul 7, 2012 : 12:50 a.m.

@league, you are soooooo right, Synder is exactly the person to blame! After all he has been governor for what about 18months? Seems plausible that in those 18months he is clearly responsible for the past decade+ of finacial problems in Ypsi, LOLOLOLO. He must have been hanging with Doc Brown and Marty in the Delorene. Remeber you have to hit 88MPH for flux capacity to work! Maybe it was Bush's fault! LOLOL Typical!!!! I'm not sure that Ypsi has EVER had a Rep mayor or a Rep majority council??.......have we?


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.

The city has had the money for its employees' pensions, and would still have it, if not for Water Street. Ypsi employee pensions are quite modest, actually, and pensions for new employees have already been eliminated. Water Street is the hole in the boat, not employee compensation.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 8:38 p.m.

So Rick negotiated all of the Ypsilanti public employee benefit packages for all of these years - right?

greg, too

Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

"If things don't work out that really puts us on the hook for $47,000," Robb said. If they did their homework and properly vetted this guy, that should minimize the risk of something not working out. The article states his contract runs through 2017. Does this mean that he is not getting any pay raises?


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

@ ron i can assure you that they are indeed talking about cutting public safety. public safety typically accounts for a majority of a cities budget and would think that is also the fact for ypsi. the biggest chunk typically takes the biggest hit. public safety, despite having been cut big time in ypsi over the last 2 decades (YPD down form close to 60 sworn in 1995 to around 30 now but continues to do way more with way less). there is no where else to cut that will give you any noticeable swing in the budget. there is no parks and rec to cut, dpw is untouchable due to their pay and equip being funded almost fully by federal roads money, you could cut the entire city hall staff and that is what 15 people who prob average 45k a year for salary and bennies each? look at it this way, when Ford is losing billions one year and goes to billions in profit the next, its not because they sold more cars, worked more effciently, found better suppilers etc, its because they cut 100k workers, whose salaries and bennies are now back on the books. voila from zero to hero. i'm tired of saying this about ypsi, but this is gonna get realllllll interesting in the near future.

ypsi 1

Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

Safety departments absorb more than 60% of the whole pie. Subtract Water Street and legacy costs and you have little left to cut. All administration takes furlough days as pay cuts and have not had raises in years. They already do multiple jobs and work hard for Ypsi. If everyone had been paying attention they would know that there is no fat left to trim, only cutting people and services. Ypsi already has contracted for part time inspections, assessing, event planning, and other former department functions. Thank goodness for people who love it and want to volunteer where thy can.


Sat, Jul 7, 2012 : 12:05 a.m.

ahi How do we see a list of all city employees for Ypsilanti?


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 8:38 p.m.

Goober, you would lose that bet. Any non-essential staff were cut long ago.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

Does Ypsilanti use any consultants? Are all positions related to safety and other basic services? I'll bet there are positions that are nice to have, but not totally required to support the best interest of Ypsilanti citizens.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 11:05 a.m.

Before you make cuts to the Safety Division of the city, I hope you look at the other departments that are not as important to have for the safety of the citizens. As city council about taking concessions and all the power people that are making all the big money. Make them all give back to the city and see how they like the idea of how it is for the lower paid workers to have to keep giving and giving and still try to pay their bills they have.


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 9:02 p.m.

City council members get around 7K per year. Who are you talking about making "big money"?

greg, too

Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

Who are these "power people" making the big money?


Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 10:53 a.m.

I do not understand how he can be an "at-will" employee and have a contract. Doesn't having an employment contract negate the basic premise of an "at-will" employment relationship?


Sun, Jul 8, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

City Managers are basically contractors for the city. He negotiates the contract with the City Council but he has to make sacrifices for the high pay and benefits. He is at-will in the sense that they can fire him at anytime and he has no protection or representation as other employees do. He is not part of the union nor does he receive civil service protection. It is actually very typical for executive-level employees in local government to be treated this way.

Monica R-W

Fri, Jul 6, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.

He can be a "at-will" employee BUT, the employer does have a rarely used option with "at-will" employees were THEY can negotiate a contract. Now basically, if accepted, that makes them a contract employee but, its' all in the language....