Township hires part-time administrator
April 20, 2011 - After rejecting a full-time office administrator in the supervisor's office earlier in the year, Independence Township trustees approved a part-timer at $15.40 an hour.
The office assistant will provide administrative, secretarial, and clerical support to the supervisor, clerk, treasurer, human resources and assessing departments.
Trustee David Lohmeier said the position is "overkill."
"This type of activity doesn't justify a personal secretary, which most of these are, personal secretarial tasks," Lohmeier said. "I'm not saying some of this couldn't be helpful, but we have enough people on the floor. We certainly have enough people at the supervisor's office to answer the phone, manage the mail and doing the basic things."
Lohmeier was one of the dissenting votes in the 5-2 decision, April 5. Trustee Neil Wallace also voted "no."
"If this were coming back with more value in it from a part-time position, I would perhaps be more supportive," Lohmeier said. "This particular role is not supported in industry commonly today. Secretaries of this nature simply aren't there, at director and up levels."
Wallace said Supervisor Dave Wagner shifted the position to part-time in an effort to bypass board authority.
"The work of your office is not getting done and you need more people to do your job, I understand that," Wallace said. "It's made worse by the fact that you're trying to circumvent the board by using a tradition of inconsequential part-time jobs and extending it to this. It's just absolutely wrong."
However, Clerk Barbra Pallotta said it was she who suggested the position be made part-time.
"When I looked at the position, I didn't look specifically at supervisor's needs, I looked at the need on the floor," Pallotta said. "We are implementing (computer software) BS&A. We have vacations coming up with staff. We're already trying to schedule our staff vacations around the BS&A implementations and training and we need a person on the floor who can actually float between all of our departments to cover those holes."
Treasurer Curt Carson agreed.
"We have no budget for temporary or some other fill-in type of a program. There has been a void there just in getting normal mail and stuff through," Carson said. "There are very specific duties and we will all get some help from this as we need it."
Trustee Larry Rosso, who voted against the proposal in the past because he felt it was a "primary service to the supervisor," said the person would "give a face to the township."
"That's the biggest criticism I've gotten over the years, that there is not enough human contact in our office – especially the supervisor's office," Rosso said.
Trustee Mark Petterson didn't like the idea of hiring somebody, but understood the reasoning due to various absences and secretary retirements over the past year. He also objected to the notion that it was a person doing the job of the supervisor.
"There is going to be a lot of duties here and they're not going to be just your duties, it will be everybody's duties on that whole floor," Petterson said. "I think it will be a great benefit to the whole floor not just some personal secretary."
Wallace also took issue with the administrative assistant reporting to the supervisor.
"I think those are the three key words on the job description, 'reports to supervisor,'" Wallace said.
Pallotta suggested the position report to her because she is there eight hours a day, and of the three full-timers (supervisor, treasurer, and clerk), she is the "organizer person in terms of scheduling."
"We need a person in our office, but I want it to work also," she said. "It's got to be someone who's floating between all four of our departments on that floor."
Wagner objected to the idea.
"I still think it has to report to the supervisor office because of what goes on and what that person is expected," Wagner said. "I think it's an opportunity for you to see if I'm a person of my word."
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.