Robert DeCoe says that if Fremont Township voters elect him as supervisor, he’ll donate his annual salary to the township general fund and won’t participate in the township pension plan – moves he said will save the township $11,540 each year.
DeCoe’s opponent – incumbent Supervisor Henry Wymore – had a ready reply when asked about DeCoe’s proposal. “You get what you pay for,” said Wymore, 69, seeking re-election to a fourth four-year term as supervisor after voters elected him to that post in 2004.
The township’s 2,523 registered voters go to the polls Nov. 8 to choose between Wymore and DeCoe, 72, a Democrat.
Voters also are asked to settle a race for treasurer between incumbent Republican Charles J. Sherwin and challenger Candra Franzel, a Democrat. There’s also a race for two trustee seats involving three candidates: incumbent Democrats Ida Barrons and John Welke, and Republican challenger Matthew Blatt.
DeCoe calls Wymore “Greedy Wymore,” claiming Wymore has accumulated $26,782 in Wymore’s pension fund, and that Wymore receives annual payments to his pension fund in addition to his $9,240 annual salary as supervisor.
Wymore said the pension program “was in place way before my time” on the board. He said he hoped to persuade the township board to dissolve the pension fund and add any annual pension payments into the salaries of township officials, but said he was “outvoted” by other board members.
Wymore says one thing and does another when it comes to amassing pension money, DeCoe said.
“He likes to say he doesn’t agree with the pension plan, but he has the chance to opt out of it, and he never has done that,” DeCoe said.
Wymore, a Republican, said that during his years as supervisor, he and his fellow board members updated the township’s master plan, using grant money and cooperating with the village of Mayville to help pay for the cost.
Wymore said that after voters elected him as township trustee in the 1990s, the township didn’t have any money for constructing a new hall, despite the possibility the township could have applied for a grant to build the hall at that time had it been able to offer matching local funds.
Wymore said he convinced other board members to begin saving money to help pay for a township hall. The township began to save money, Wymore said, adding that after he was elected supervisor, the township had enough money to have the new hall “built for what we had in the bank.”
“There’s a lot of people who donated their time out there, and their work in building it,” Wymore said.
DeCoe, however, claims Wymore wanted to buy a bank building in Mayville as the site of the township hall.
“We paid cash for that hall when we bought it, and volunteer help was part of it,” DeCoe said. “If it would have been up to Henry, we wouldn’t have had that new hall. He wanted to buy that bank up there for more than $200,000.”
DeCoe said he’s a U.S. Army veteran and retired tool-and-die maker for General Motors Co., and the son of a Nazarene minister. He vowed to voters in campaign literature to “put a lock box around your tax money!”
Wymore said that during his 12 years as supervisor, the township board contracted to have all township properties appraised, preventing state officials from auditing township tax records.
DeCoe claims it will take more than 30 years to pay back the money spent to hire the appraisers. DeCoe alleges Supervisor Wymore “uses his gavel to intimidate and interrupt speakers,” describing Wymore as “a little dictator.”
Wymore declined to respond to the accusation.
“That’s not my practice of putting people down,” Wymore said. “I won’t do that to him. I don’t care what he says about me.”
DeCoe takes issue with a fire assessment of $25 per parcel placed on Fremont Township property owners while Wymore has been supervisor. DeCoe claims insurance policies provide $500 to help cover the cost of fire runs, and that the Fremont fire assessment doesn’t recoup the amount of money that could be gathered for the township if the township billed a property owner $500 for a fire on that person’s property.
Wymore defended the fire assessment.
“A lot of townships have a (property-tax) millage for fire contracts, and we don’t,” Wymore said. “We’re one of the few townships that doesn’t have a road millage.”
Wymore said the township’s fire assessment of $25 per parcel, per year, is “a fixed rate, special assessment, across the board.”
“Most of our fires are grass fires,” Wymore said.
While some townships ask voters to approve property-tax millages to pay for fire protection, Wymore said he doesn’t support that idea because “with inflation, every year, property values go up, and that means your millage is going to increase.”
Wymore said that during his 12 years as supervisor, the township hasn’t instituted any special millage rates that pull money from property owners.
“We passed a garbage contract this year and the majority of the people wanted it,” Wymore said. The contract requires residents to pay $107 per household in the first year of the deal.”
DeCoe claims Wymore used his position as supervisor to “get (Wymore’s) property zoned for a (cellphone) tower.”
“Do you see a tower on my farm anywhere?” Wymore asked an Advertiser reporter who inquired about the allegation.
“We’ve been approved for one, but when it got all over and done with, my wife and I didn’t want it,” Wymore asked. “We could put one here, but between the tower company and us, it didn’t happen.
“We went through the proper procedures. We went through the planning and zoning board. The planning and zoning board approved it. There was nothing sneaky about it.”
Wymore said the township’s website, www.fremonttownship.org, now has most of the township cemetery records on it, along with the township zoning ordinance and minutes from township meetings.
During Wymore’s time as supervisor, Fremont Township officials made decisions allowing construction of a gas station/convenience store at M-24 and M-46, and Krystal Lake Campground on Washburn Road.
The developments “brought jobs and tax revenue to our township,” Wymore said.