The Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees on Monday, November 25, unanimously approved contracting with Minneapolis-based Segal Waters Consulting to conduct a comprehensive study into employee compensation and staffing levels at the township.
The proposed study will be the first of its kind in more than a decade, and is intended to address questions about employee recruitment and retention in light of budget reductions and upcoming contract negotiations. The study will look at staffing and workloads, position descriptions, compensation, benefits and job evaluations across the township's departments, including its elected officials. The study will also look for any instances or appearance of conflicts of interest, and provide guidance and support for human resources and management staff.
The board in September approved issuing a request for proposals from vendors to conduct the study. An ad-hoc compensation study committee was also formed to develop specific components of the study and evaluate proposals. The committee, which recommended contracting with Segal Waters, consisted of Bloomfield Township Trustee Michael Schostak; Bloomfield Township Finance Director Jason Theis; government consultant and financial advisor Bob Kittle; Bloomfield Township resident and former Oakland County Deputy Executive of Economic Development and Community Affairs Tim Meyer; and resident and retired auto industry executive and consultant Paula Butler.
"Segal Waters was the only firm that did research on the township before meeting with us," Schostak said, who chaired the committee. "They are a big consulting firm with a deep bench of consultants nationwide. The down side is that they are the most expensive, and their project team is a little further away."
Schostak said Segal Waters reduced its proposal by about six percent but was still the highest bidder at $117,500. The lowest bid of $38,500 was from Paypoint HR, but didn't include the staffing study portion of the study. Additional bids received included McGrath HR Group at $52,968; Rehmann Robson at $71,355; and GovHR USA at $94,750. Schostak said Segal Waters was the only firm that included a complete submission from the beginning.
Each of the five proposals was scored using a matrix diagram to compare which best met the township's criteria, with Segal Waters receiving the highest overall scores, which took into account methodology, thoroughness and quality of response, company expertise, project management, price, responsiveness and a proposed timeline. Three of the firms were interviewed on Thursday, November 14, by telephone or Skype. All of the firms are located outside of Michigan, except Rehmann Robson, which is based in Grand Rapids. The committee then selected GovHR and Segal Waters as its two finalists.
"Ultimately, this decision comes down to whether the service and end result of a project by Segal Waters is worth the premium price, a differential of roughly $23,000," Schostak said.
While Schostak said either of the two firms would meet the objectives of the study, the committee felt the level of service, end product and presentation from Segal Waters would be superior. He said the price difference was in part due to Segal Waters providing a flat price for the work, while others gave estimates based on hourly rates.
"They presented experience and knowledge that was unparalleled, and they have the most resources to complete the project within the timeframe presented," he said.
The study is expected to be completed within four to six months.
The board approved contacting with Segal Waters with the intent to negotiate a lower price; however, the maximum contract approved wasn't lower than the $117,500 proposed.
"If you ask for their best and final price, and feel they are best qualified to deliver the product you want, my recommendation is to have a motion to reflect the pricing they have," Savoie said, who said requiring a specific amount lower than that proposed could cause delays.
Trustee David Buckley, who initially recommended negotiating a lower price, supported a motion by trustee Neal Barnett that included negotiating a lower price with a maximum of $117,500. Buckley said he checked with other communities that had used the firm and received positive feedback.
"They said they were expensive but excellent at what they do," Buckley said. "I agree with the supervisor that their best and final is what we are dealing with."