Dec. 1 deadline for supervisor Wagner
November 09, 2011 - Independence Township board is offering Supervisor Dave Wagner a 30-day window to receive his lifetime healthcare early in return for "his unconditional resignation and permanent retirement from Independence Township government,"
"This board has been patient, even dossal about the lack of the supervisor's attendance to his duties," said Trustee Neil Wallace. "We've been doing the best we can to get by, but there comes a point when that becomes a disservice to the township and to the township's employees."
The board voted 4-2 in favor of the motion written by Wallace. He felt statements by Wagner in recent news reports supported reason for his motion.
"It seemed to me the message was pretty clear," Wallace said. "He was offering to us, in so many words, that he would resign if he had his retirement healthcare benefits paid for by the township."
Treasurer Curt Carson disagreed with giving the benefits early before meeting the requirements.
"The supervisor now is the only individual who can receive these benefits after only eight years in office. I think it is right that he has to serve the eight years to receive them," Carson said. "Offering the benefits early by forcing him to resign I think sets a bad precedents and provides a bad example."
The board voted to changed retirement benefits from eight years to 16 years in Nov. 2010. Having four years already under his belt, Wagner was grandfathered into the eight years to receive retirement benefits.
Trustee Mark Petterson who also voted against the motion said he was "sticking by his guns again."
"When you quit you leave with nothing," Petterson said. "When you're done working after your terms are done you get nothing. That's the way the world works."
Trustee Larry Rosso said he was focused on "Wagner and his circumstances."
"I think he should at least be worthy of the courtesy of being given that option to leave if he so desires," Rosso said.
Clerk Barbara Pallotta also lent her support because she wanted to know where Wagner stood.
"If it means that Mr. Wagner will resign and we can get somebody on board with us to assist us through this process, I'm all about that," she said. "If he declines this, then we'll know."
Trustee David Lohmeier also supported the motion, but with "struggle" because he previous asked Wagner to resign simply because he thought "the job he is doing is probably not near what people expected when they elected him."
"I don't disagree with the premise," Lohmeier said. "I understand this is based on responding to something he has in a roundabout way asked for, but the fact we're trying to deal with a benefit that never should have been part of the decisions is personally frustrating to me."
Resident Bart Clark felt an option for Wagner was needed.
"I think the best deal you can is to allow Mr. Wagner the option of receiving benefits and resigning or let him stay on as a non-employee employee," Clark said.
Jim Reed said the board was "between a rock and a hard place."
"Although I don't like the idea, Mr. Wallace's proposal gets you off dead center and lets the township move forward," he said. "I think it's a terribly messy situation, but maybe that's the best way out."
Carson asked Township Attorney Steve Joppich if asking Wagner to "permanently retire" was legal. Joppich said he hadn't researched it, but he felt it was.
Wagner who's been out on disability the last seven months received a letter of the proposal on Nov. 3. He told the Clarkston News he was "shocked." He has until Dec. 1 to give an answer.
"I'll probably have them an answer in a week or so," Wagner said. "I just don't know what it's going to be, I haven't even had a chance to digest it."
As far as his health, he is waiting on results from recent biopsies.
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.