Ex-assessing chief to get settlement for underpayment

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — A member of the team that led the city’s massive parcel reassessment is expected to get a $135,000 payout from Detroit to resolve a lawsuit he filed after he said the city underpaid him.

The settlement stems from an lawsuit filed in August in Wayne County Circuit Court by Gary Evanko, who was contracted by Detroit to serve as its interim chief assessor in 2013.

Evanko said in the filing that the city breached its contract and under-compensated him by $139,428.97 over the course of the contract, which had been amended and renewed.

The settlement is expected to go before Detroit’s City Council on Tuesday for a vote. Evanko and his attorney could not be reached Monday for comment.

Evanko entered into a one-year contract with the city in 2013, with an option for two, one-year renewals.

Under the agreement, he was to be paid $162 an hour for total contract compensation not to exceed $162,000. The agreement was later amended and renewed by the city, maintaining the hourly rate but boosting the total amount to no more than $194,400, on an annualized basis for 1,200 hours worked, contract documents say.

Evanko’s final term was negotiated last September for a period set to expire June 30.

The legal filing argues Evanko “fully performed his obligations” under each contract and that the city “failed and refused” to pay the amounts due.

But Detroit’s Chief Financial Officer John Hill said Monday that the city attempted to make Evanko whole as soon as it learned of the pay discrepancies in June.

Prior to that time, Hill said, he wasn’t aware that Evanko wasn’t getting the pay outlined in the contract. It came up only when Hill informed Evanko that his contract would not be renewed.

Evanko filed the lawsuit after the city verified Evanko’s calculations were correct and prepared to cut Evanko a check for the remaining balance.

Hill said he’s not certain why Evanko pursued legal action.

“I’m just sorry that it came to this,” Hill said. “We thank him for the time he spent with the city during a very difficult time.”

Hill added he chose not to renew the contract because he felt pay was “too high for that position.” Additionally, the city hired two other assessors with Evanko’s level of certification at a lower pay since Evanko’s hire.

While working in Detroit, Evanko aided the city’s assessing office leadership in an exhaustive review of assessments and home sales in Detroit. Hill said the citywide parcel reassessment remains underway. The residential review will conclude this year and the commercial will wrap up next year, Hill said.

Evanko is the city of Dearborn’s assessor and has held the role in Allen Park. Formerly, he directed Wayne County’s Assessment and Equalization Division.