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$135,000 to fill in for supervisor



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December 14, 2011 - Is it too much to spend $135,250 of taxpayers' money for three people to do Independence Township Supervisor Dave Wagner's job?

Independence Township Trustee David Lohmeier doesn't think so.

"It's not costing us that much more, now that he's disabled, to finish getting his job done than it was before when he was supposedly there," he said.

The township currently pays Human Resource Director Carol Gabris $64,150 a year to handle HR duties. Budget Analyst Rick Yaeger is part-time at $30 for 22.5 hours, or $35,100 per year. Newly appointed Superintendent Bart Clark is part-time at 20 hours week for $3,000 a month or $36,000 a year.

The township is also still paying Wagner $1,200 bi-weekly or $31,200 a year, while currently on disability. When working full-time, Wagner's salary is around $80,000.

Lohmeier sees it as only paying $36,000 to replace Wagner for the rest of his services because the HR director and the budget analyst were already hired prior to Wagner going out on disability eight months ago.

"I'm responsible for making sure the work gets done and I think we're probably doing it for as cheaply as we possibly can," Lohmeier said. "It's the voters' job to see if they got their money's worth in who they elected."

The township also pays Finance Director Susan Hendricks $73,860 a year. Prior to hiring Yaeger, Hendricks did the budget with the supervisor. However, Clerk Barb Pallotta said Hendricks is doing the same thing she did for Wagner, which is providing the information, but "Wagner never did what Rick did."

"Susan spends the whole year managing our adopted budget," she said. "If there are any red flags she is responsible for bringing it to the supervisor's attention or she brings it to the attention of a department head or the board."

The deadline for superintendent resumes is Dec. 15 and Pallotta said if she sees where positions could be "condensed" by various people or roles, she wouldn't be opposed to it.

"Of course I would take a look at it," she said. "I'm not about to have two people doing the same job."

At the same time, she feels it's hard to make too many decisions without having an affirmative answer from the supervisor as to if he is coming back or not from disability.

"Dave Wagner needs to make a decision, we're his colleagues," Pallotta said. "He owes it to the board to let us know what's going on."

As far as the money that is currently being spent, she doesn't believe they have a choice.

"We need someone to do all the work, it's not going to get any easier," she said. "I'm going into election mode starting right now and I can't keep handling the personnel issues."

Treasurer Curt Carson sees reason and need for HR and the budget analyst and the superintendent in the supervisor's office as well.

"With several unions and issues we have need to have an HR person," Carson said. "Not that we necessarily need to pay a full-time, but you need someone with that kind of expertise."

He noted that Yaeger and Clark were doing a great job.

"Are we spending money," Carson asked. "Yes, and we might be spending a little more than we should be because the supervisor is disabled, but things have to be done."

The lone wolf, Trustee Mark Petterson, feels if the board is going to spend that much for three people to do Wagner's job, than both the clerk and treasurer should go to part-time as was proposed by the slate in the 2008 election.

"I'm flabbergasted in how they thought we could afford this. It's do as I say, not as I do," he said. "We tell everybody and all the departments to cut back and here we go, business as usual spending."

Petterson said the situation makes him proud of all the supervisors prior to Wagner.

"If it takes this many people to do his (Wagner's) job than all the supervisor's prior must have been absolute geniuses. I just don't agree with spending that kind of money."

Wagner did not return phone call seeking comment.

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.
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