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Grand Blanc Township Board's sudden firing of superintendent sparks community-wide concern

Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 11:51 PM EDT
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(06/24/2020) - A vote suddenly terminating the contract of one Mid-Michigan township superintendent.

"I'm ready for a change in the leadership in terms of our superintendent position. I'm going to make a motion here to immediately exercise the termination clause of his employment agreement," Board Trustee, Al Mansour said.

It happened during Tuesday night's board of trustees meeting in Grand Blanc Township. It was not an agenda item for the meeting, but passed with a 5-2 majority. Supervisor Scott Bennett and Treasurer Earl Guzak voted against the motion.

In less than ten minutes, the Grand Blanc Board of Trustees approved firing Superintendent Dennis Liimatta. According to the township website, "the Superintendent is appointed by the Board of Trustees and is responsible for carrying out and directing the administration of the governments day to day operations."

ABC12 contacted Al Mansour as he was the one initiating the motion. His words represent his own opinions and do not represent the board as a whole.

"If you were looking at some of the township meetings since last fall, you would've seen a number of situations where the board was simply not on the same page as the superintendent, and so at a certain point, it just became the right time for me to introduce this motion," Mansour said.

Mansour says he feels the Township needed a different style of leadership, and the timing felt right to move forward as the community moves out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not everyone agrees.

"It took us over a year to find somebody of his caliber, and the skills that he brings, I'm not sure anybody realizes to the extent that he has saved us millions of dollars and brought in millions of dollars to this township, so he's going to be missed," Township Supervisor Scott Bennett said.

Bennett says his phone has been ringing non-stop since word of Liimatta's firing. He says it's unclear why he was let go. Since 2015, he says Liimatta has received favorable reviews from the board.

"Our financial position has never been better in terms of our unfunded liabilities. We've reduced those by ten million dollars or more in the past four years. It's just unheard of the progress we've made in the past four and a half, five years with Mr. Liimatta," Bennett said.

The board is holding an in-person special meeting to figure out how to move forward without Liimatta. Members of the community plan to attend and share their concerns.

One community member who wishes to remain anonymous says, "Certain members of the board seem to be threatened by Mr. Liimatta, his intelligence, and the wonderful things he has done for this community. Residents of the township deserve transparency from their elected officials and should be demanding from them their reasoning behind Mr. Liimatta's abrupt termination."

The meeting is planned for 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1 at the Grand Blanc Senior Center.

ABC12 did make contact with Liimatta, but he did not wish to comment at this time.

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