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Trustees blindsided by supervisor hire

Yaeger (click for larger version)
November 10, 2010 - Rumor had it Independence Township Supervisor Dave Wagner hired a deputy supervisor.

Turns out, rumor was right.

When questioned at the Nov. 3 Township Board meeting, Wagner said he hired a part-time administrative assistant, but two days later, Wagner swore in Rick Yaeger as deputy supervisor.

"I hired him as a part-time worker to come in and assist me. Since there was so much discussed at the board, I thought it was a good opportunity," Wagner said. "As I noted in the newspaper, it talked about me not being around – who was in charge? After I thought about it, I thought might as well deputize him."

Trustee David Lohmeier saw a copy of Yaeger's application, which indicated he applied for deputy supervisor.

"I'm disappointed he (Wagner) didn't tell the truth," Lohmeier said. "You can't expect someone to behave differently than they always have."

Yaeger will work part-time at $30 an hour for 20-23 hours a week. His pay will come out of the money that was used for Wagner's former administrative assistant Kathy Pool who retired this past week. According to state statute, township boards set salary, but Wagner said that's only for full-time positions.

"We hire part-time people all the time," Wagner said. "If there is money available in your budget, it doesn't go before the board.

Lohmeier disagreed.

"I'm tired of hearing 'it's in my budget and I can spend it however I want,'" Lohmeier said. "It's not his money to use, that money was dedicated to an administrative assistant."

Trustee Larry Rosso said he was told by Wagner before the meeting that he had hired Yaeger as deputy supervisor.

"Why in the heck he would state in the meeting this was a part-time administrative assistant was ridiculous because if he hires the person as the deputy, that's an at-will employee," Rosso said. "If he'd just said that, there wouldn't be any real issue at least as far as I was concerned."

However, Wagner said Yaeger will fulfill the administration assistant role as well, until he determines if he will hire another person or not for that position.

"What I want to do there, if I decide to do it, is make sure this person has the abilities to be cross-trained in all the departments, so if there is a need when someone is off, this person will be able to assist," said Wagner.

"As an executive assistant to the supervisor they should be knowledgeable in all departments."

Lohmeier said if Wagner "leaves both positions hanging out there," he probably won't vote for it.

"If we eliminate the administrative assistant and replace it with a part-time deputy supervisor and move that (extra) amount (of money for a full-time administrative assistant) into the board budget as opposed to the supervisor's budget, that's probably the only way I would go for it."

Wagner believes Yaeger, who also works part-time in Northville handling their general ledger and finances, will be a great asset to the township.

"As many years as I can remember, they have always had a deputy supervisor. The reason they have is just in case the supervisor goes on vacation, gets hurt, or has an illness there is someone to take care of business and over the last two years, we've been without," Wagner said.

"I, myself, have been out several times with health problems and even though I'm close by and generally I would get out of the hospital after a few days, employees are going over township business and it's not the same. You need someone right here and this is how we're accomplishing it."

Yaeger lives in Highland Township for 19 years with his wife 29 years.

"I'm actually very excited about the position," he said. "I think this is going to be a great opportunity for both the township and myself."

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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