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Brian Kepes was the right man for the job

At 5:31 p.m. August 31, Bloomfield Township Treasurer Brian Kepes will officially walk out of Township Hall as a resident of the township, having resigned as the township treasurer after almost seven influential and transformative years, leaving the job in the capable hands of trustee Michael Schostak. As he resumes his role as citizen Kepes, we want to thank and honor him for 30 years of civic duty which often went beyond the appointed or elected call.

It's our job to observe and monitor municipal officials, and most are adequate-to-good in their positions. Occasionally one needs to be called to the mat for egregious actions – and sometimes, it's our privilege to highlight a career. Kepes has quietly and unassumingly gone about always putting the township, and his fellow residents, first, helping to create and maintain Bloomfield Township as an ascetically beautiful and AAA-bond rated, financially thriving community. He has served as a member of the township's tax board of review and zoning board of appeals, board of trustees, and since 2016, when the township was in crisis, as its elected treasurer, prevailing in a contentious primary over the previous treasurer, the troubled Dan Devine.

Devine, who was township treasurer for 17 years, had become a controversial figure within Township Hall, including filing a whistleblower lawsuit against Bloomfield Township and township supervisor Leo Savoie, which was thrown out in December 2015, and which he lost on appeal. Devine had made himself a laughingstock by alleging that Savoie could have “kidnapped” his missing daughter in May 2015, when she was actually at work.

But most egregious for Bloomfield Township residents, in 2014 it came to light that the township's retirement defined benefit pension plan – which was Devine's responsibility to oversee – was underperforming for the township, and forcing the township to make significant capital investments to make up the shortfalls. There was also the issue of excessive fees paid to a former investment advisory firm for their pension obligation bond.

Kepes didn't seek out the job as treasurer for his ego or the money – he is CPA by training, and runs a real estate and management company, and could have continued as a trustee. But he appreciated that he had the skills and talents to right the ship, looking to ensure that taxpayers' hard-earned dollars will be prudently and wisely spent and invested. He helped establish the citizen-involved financial sustainability committee, tapping into the wisdom of residents who are in financial services to help advise the township on investments; he worked with the county treasurer to consolidate investments; he oversaw significant improvements in the township's investment accounts, notably related to pensions and worked to make a dent in OPEB (other post-employment liabilities) payments. He worked regionally on water and sewer costs and payments in the best interest of taxpayers. Recently, he made monthly payments a possibility. And most importantly, he helped the township resume and retain it's AAA Standard & Poor's rating.

There was never any drama with Brian Kepes. When he spoke at township board of trustee meetings, it was to address a point or a person, and it was succinct. He understands Bloomfield Township to its core, and clearly relishes living in the community. We hope that September brings the ability to luxuriate in its splendors as Kepes enjoys the well-deserve time, knowing he left very large footprints to fill.


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