December 05, 2012 - Belcher regains duties
by Mary Keck
After a 6-1 vote, Building Director David Belcher now has staff reporting directly to him. Previously, employees within the Building Department were supervised by former superintendent Bart Clark.
While most on the board felt the building director should lead the department, Trustee David Lohmeier was the sole voice opposed to the change.
"It is not accidental that [Belcher] is not in a supervisory position today," Lohmeier stated.
"There's been nothing over the last few months to a year that would indicate to me that the appointment of Mr. Belcher back into a supervisory role is a good idea," he argued.
Despite Lohmeier's protestations, Supervisor Pat Kittle feels, "I have seen nothing in my experiences with Mr. Belcher that would give me any cause for alarm."
While Trustee Andrea Schroeder said she agreed with Lohmeier's comments during the meeting, her perspective on returning the department's management to its director was different.
"We need to have the appropriate structures in place regardless of the people involved in these positions," Schroeder said.
"I agree, we need to separate the person from this position," said Clerk Pallotta who evaluated Belcher's performance after a one-year probationary period that ended in July.
Pallotta's assessment of Belcher's work five months ago stated, "he is unable to demonstrate leadership and management skills when presented with decision making issues and operational expectations." Despite Pallotta's critical review of his performance, she voted in favor of reinstating the director's role on November 27.
"We've lost an employee over this already, and I don't want to see that happen again," Pallotta said. "I think the only answer is to reinstate the position so that the department can operate," she concluded.
Ritchie agreed and pointed out, "any deficiencies in the person of the job will have to be addressed going forward."
Kittle reinforced Ritchie's point. "Mr. Belchers' performance will be monitored and measured like any other director should be in the township, and he will be treated no differently than any other employee," he said.
Along with reinstating management of employees to the department director, the Building Department will have a new fulltime Building Inspector: Dennis Smith, who was recently hired for the position.
"We've hired a new building inspector, and I have a lot of confidence in him," said Pallotta.
Independence Township hasn't stopped hiring employees for the building department yet; they are still seeking a part-time code enforcer. The next board of trustees meeting will take place on December 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Township Hall.
Clarkston News reporter