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Orion reacts to salary increase

Opinions run the gamut

December 12, 2012 - "I don't think they are paying him enough to do the job that he does."

So said Orion Township Clerk Penny Shults. She was referring to the recent increase placed on the Orion Township supervisor's position.

New supervisor Chris Barnett took office only days after an increase for his position had been approved. At the Nov. 19 meeting, a motion was approved to raise township salaries by one percent and the supervisor's position by 2.5 percent. This raised the supervisor's annual salary to $80,000.

Community response to the pay increase awarded the supervisor's position has run the gamut. Much of the response was posted on The Lake Orion Review's Facebook page in response to a question about what readers thought about the raise.

Burch Burchard wondered how township officials could "justify getting raises when most people are being told they are lucky they have a job."

Since the township is "still not getting the tax base it should be with so many foreclosures, home value depreciation, and short sales I don't see how anyone should be getting a raise," Erin Harbison Kelch echoed.

Some expected the new Orion supervisor to follow the example offered by new Independence Township supervisor Patrick Kittle.

Kittle's voluntary abstention from township health insurance enabled Independence to move his administrative assistant to a full-time position with benefits.

Others in Orion took a different view. Lucy Logsdon considered the supervisor's raise a product of collective bargaining, and said "I think the rest of the staff should thank their union coworkers for negotiating their raise."

"Why do people always seem to be down on people getting raises?," she continued. "When others get raises it seems more likely that in the future you might expect to get some kind of additional compensation, as the mean income would rise."

Some readers considered the whole topic distasteful and negative.

Lake Orion Education Association President Jeffrey Faber disliked what he viewed as sensationalism, and chided the Lake Orion Review for broaching the subject. "Who needs the NY Post when we have the L.O. Review?"

Andy Magnus followed Faber's line of thinking and said the "editorial angle on this 'story' is disheartening. As a local business and home owner, I would think our local paper might report on all the new businesses choosing to locate in Lake Orion rather than populist rubbish."

Magnus was in concert with Shults, and considered the salary incommensurate with the tasks assigned. "The supervisor of Orion Township only makes $80k? That seems very low considering the responsibilities and skill sets required to perform that job properly. Besides, 2.5% doesn't even pace inflation."

For his part, new supervisor Barnett made clear that he did not request nor orchestrate the raise. It was decided by the previous board before he took up the supervisor's gavel. Though he didn't seek the increase, at the same time he needs to make a living and support his young family, he said.

"I didn't choose my new line of work because of the compensation," Barnett explained. "I love my community and have been a tireless advocate for everything Orion. I have no agenda except to promote OUR community and I welcome your input. Feel free to call me at 248- 391-0304 x-201, or stop by anytime."

The next Orion Township Board meeting is set for Dec. 17.

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