GRAND BLANC TWP. — The Grand Blanc Township Board of Trustees voted 5-2 on Tuesday to fire Superintendent Dennis Liimatta.
Supervisor Scott Bennett and Treasurer Earl Guzak voted against the firing of Liimatta, while Clerk Cathy Lane and trustees Lonnie Adkins, Ken Thomas, Al Mansour and Joe Massey voted in favor.
The board had just finished discussing options for reducing costs due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic when Trustee Al Mansour moved to “immediately exercise the termination clause of (Liimatta’s) employment agreement.”
Trustee Joe Massey supported the motion.
Both Bennett and Guzak asked that the board postpone their decision until they could discuss the matter in executive session.
“I believe there are a number of things to discuss,” said Bennett.
He added that the item was not on the posted meeting agenda.
“If the board is leaning this way, this is something we need to discuss in executive session, or have it on the agenda, so we can talk about the options,” he said. “But to just do this, it’s going to be devastating.”
Bennett credited Liimatta with ensuring the township’s finances, attracting significant new development and reducing the number of employee grievances.
“I think he has done a phenomenal job of leading this township,” said Bennett. “I think it would be a huge mistake to terminate his contract.”
“This is a serious situation,” said Guzak. “I think we should go into a meeting to discuss this and go through all the options. I would like an executive session … to go through all the pros and cons before I make a decision.”
Mansour agreed that the board should not “have some kind of back and forth or negotiation in public.”
“Each board member is going to have to base their vote on behalf of the interest of the residents, based on their experience and interaction with the superintendent,” Mansour said.
Township attorney David Lattie said Liimatta’s contract contains a provision stating the township board may, without cause, terminate the contract with even days written notice.
Under the terms of the employment agreement, Liimatta is entitled to a 90-day severance package, Lattie said.
Liimatta said he is proud of the work he’s done for the township.