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Trustees keep supervisor pay decrease options open



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April 11, 2012 - Citizens were prepared to debate changing the next supervisor's salary, April 3, but Trustee David Lohmeier took it off the table.

Lohmeier originally proposed the next elected supervisor earn $25,000 without benefits, a reduction from the current almost $80,000 salary with benefits.

Although this item was on the board's agenda for Tuesday, Lohmeier did not pursue it, explaining that he didn't "see enough promise of support and [did not] want to waste any of the board's time."

Citizens and board members in attendance were not dissuaded from discussing the matter despite its removal.

Resident Joe Waldron spoke first saying, "People in the audience want to talk about this. Let's get it out in the open."

Former Independence Township clerk Joan McCrary echoed Waldron's opinion on the importance of public input.

"If there's a thought from this board that we go from a township manager full-time to a part-time supervisor, it should be put on the ballot," she said.

Several other residents agreed the change requires feedback from the public and should not be determined by the current board alone.

Treasurer Curt Carson said, "there can be an advisory vote, but the board is not obligated to follow that."

If the citizens suggested a vote, it could be attached to the ballot as soon as this year, but the board wouldn't be required to add it, Carson said.

Although Lohmeier intended to withdraw the supervisor's salary debate from the agenda, citizens in attendance went beyond suggesting a vote and continued questioning the wage reduction.

"Who is going to run for a $25,000 job," Sam Moraco asked.

His concern was that the suggested salary decrease might not draw candidates with the best expertise for the election.

"You tie our hands on who we could attract to the position, and that's unfair before the next election," he said.

Trustee Larry Rosso, who hadn't expected Lohmeier to pull compensation talks, took the opportunity to share his opinion that citizen's should "weigh in."

He felt if the board waited for a wage adjustment until after the upcoming election residents could vote on candidates based on their opinion about a part-time or full-time supervisor.

Treasurer Curt Carson agreed contenders should run on the concept of a government change rather than the current board deciding on one before the election.

Despite Lohmeier's claim that his "motion has nothing to do with restructuring government," others on the board and among the public made it clear they interpreted his recommendation differently.

Sam Moraco noted Tuesday's agenda change meant interested residents might have to attend another meeting to share their views if discussion of the pay decrease was added to the agenda later.

Then, he asked for a commitment from the board to agree that deliberation on the topic would be put aside before the election.

Lohmeier answered, "I'm not saying I wouldn't bring it back up because I think it's the right thing to do."

Whether Trustee Lohmeier's proposal is labeled a salary alteration or an adjustment to the Independence Township government, the door on talk of this subject remains open.

Clarkston News reporter
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