Green Oak Officials Wrestle With Proposed Engineering Fee Hikes

Green Oak Township officials are hesitant to move forward with a proposal for significant fee increases from their contracted engineering firm.

Civil Engineering Solutions, owned by Leslie Zawada, contacted the township last month with a request for a fee increase. A memo to the township’s Board of Trustees stated that CES has enjoyed working with the municipality’s staff, officials and property owners, noting the upcoming eight year anniversary of the firm’s contract with Green Oak Township. CES’ request is for an hourly rate increase and lump sum review fees for plats and site plans. The proposal came before the Board of Trustees at a recent meeting and was approached cautiously by officials.

Several board members expressed their concern as some of the requested increases are by as much as 50%; one example being a proposal to increase the current $80 fee for a principal engineer or surveyor to $120. Trustee Richard Everett noted that certain fees increased to about $80 just last year and to jump to $120 “is an awfully big step in one year”.

Zawada, the firm’s president, explained to the Board who the increase would most impact and why she felt the increase was a reasonable request stating, “Regarding design projects, for example like if the parking lot were to be redone, those prices in our contract are lump sums; they’re percentages. So the hourly rates really don’t event apply to those. The hourly rates do apply though…if a developer wants to meet with me or my team, that’s where the majority of the fees get passed on to.”

Township Supervisor Mark St. Charles tells WHMI if the rate hike were approved, he doesn’t see how it could affect homeowners with the exception of maybe some minor work with sewer issues. He says while he hates to see an increase, he understands that CES is a growing business and that their rates are still below that of nearby competitors. At the Board’s meeting, St. Charles said the township has had a good working relationship with CES and that the firm is “very responsive” adding, “I think there’s some trade-offs…we get timely work and we get great work.”

But the Board had to postpone a decision on CES’ request. The township renewed a three-year contract with the firm last year; however officials and Zawada were unsure if there had been a provision included that addressed rate increases. It was decided that issue should be researched and resolved before moving forward with action on the request, so the item was tabled until the Board’s next meeting. (DK)

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