2016-06-09 / Front Page

Goodrich village approves employee wage hikes

Dam improvement plan questioned
By Paula Kay Schmidt
810.452.2647 • pschmidt@mihomepaper.com

GOODRICH — Based on the prevailing wage in Ortonville and additional revenue from Act 51 (roads) money, Village Administrator Jakki Sidge proposed that Deputy Clerk Pat Schierup be raised from $16.53 to $18 an hour and Administrative Assistant Tracy Christener from $18.56 to $20; as well as a cost of living wage for all other employees.

Councilman Jacob Vick said in a previous meeting he was not in favor of the raises and also suggested combining a staff position to save money but Sidge said that couldn’t be done according to the current charter and changing the charter takes approximately two years.

Vick had requested as well (at the previous meeting) that Sidge provide figures which would show the impact of an increase in employee contributions to health care at which time she said she “could” do that for this meeting, but she had not.

She replied, “I wasn’t asked to do that and I don’t believe that should happen”. Council President Mark Baldwin directed her to do so for the following meeting (held June 2nd).

In that meeting, it was agreed to give an across the board raise of 2 percent to all village employees and raise their healthcare contribution to 10 percent of their total premium.

Sidge said that Ortonville had also just hired an inexperienced manager and according to officials there he is making $53,600 in total compensation. “I’ve been here over 20 and I’m making ($52,000). You can’t look at charging us 10-15 percent of (our) wages — then we’re in the hole.”

Additionally, Sidge budgeted for new equipment for the Department of Public Works (DPW) Department, as requested by Ethan Campbell. She said she projected $15,000 for a new commercial lawnmower, a trailer to haul other equipment and a pole saw.

“The numbers are already in the budget … there’s enough money to buy these,” Sidge added. Currently the village pays to move equipment to work locations, which costs about $35 each way according to officials.

Budgeting for the equipment is not equivalent to a council approval to purchase, Sidge noted. They also got quotes for the lawnmower which is expected to cost more than $10,000. Street Administrator Pete (Ralph) Morey said they bought the current one in 2005 and he anticipates they could sell it used for $2,000-2,500.

“We can put that money towards the new one. Scag (name brand of mower) is really well built. You need a commercial mower that can run eight hours and not burn up, this should last a good 10-15 years easily,” he said. However, the consensus was to wait another year for purchase of this item, although money was left in the budget just in case an issue arose.

The other item, the pole saw, is 17 years old and slipping and not necessarily as safe as it used to be according to Sidge and this expense was approved at the final meeting. In regard to the trailer, Baldwin informed the council that rather than buy new, his father in law had one in Oscoda he may be interested in selling.

However he was unsure if the trailer dimensions were big enough to handle the equipment so the decision to purchase was postponed by consensus.

Sidge added the General Fund has about $310,000 that is not allocated and can be used as needed, on roads, or for the possible bill they are expecting from Genesee County water and waste for repairs to the Wheelock Watkins Drain.

There was some talk of possibly paving Seneca or Clarence street, but the consensus was those would have to come about as a result of petition by residents, which would result in a Special Assessment to those resident’s tax bills. There was also talk of getting money from the Township for Clarence Street as that is where the township fire hall is located.

Vick asked about budgeting for dam improvements and Sidge said until the council chooses a specific direction to go in, it wouldn’t be included in the annual budget, which is a working document and can be updated by vote of council at any time.

According to a later phone call with Sidge, there are no plans to do anything with the dam in the near future and the long range plan is to make it into a recreational area. According to the State Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), that is accurate.

Luke Trumble, Dam Safety Engineer said the village is compliant with their 2012 request to correct water flow rate and repair sink holes. Future issues will be addressed as needed but unless an emergency situation occurs, the village plan is fine as is.

Trumble did state the DEQ will expect the village to address the dam in the long run — either on an emergency or pre-planned basis. Although the village has looked at options, there is no formal plan for pursuing any option at this time.

In summary, Trumble said, “The condition of (the) dam defines timeline. Nobody has a crystal ball. We’ll continue to work with the village, assess condition (of dam). It’s gonna be fluid …until something that’s urgent; give them time to fund, and plan and design until the dam doesn’t allow freedom.” He added the dam is due for a follow-up inspection this summer.

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