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What to do about absent supervisor?



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June 15, 2011 - After missing four meetings in a row due to medical reasons with no set return, Independence Township officials are trying to figure out how to conduct business without a supervisor.

"We're going to have to make a decision if Dave (Wagner) is going to continue to be out," said Trustee David Lohmeier. "There are 14-15 months left in this term of office. I'm trying to think what's best for the township. We could probably go on another month or so, but we couldn't go on into the summer and into the next fall with the budgeting and without a supervisor in that role."

Wagner missed 13 of 40, 33 percent, of total meetings in 2010 many but not all absences were health related. He still receives his full salary, $78,248 per year.

"I guess that's not too bad considering how many times I was in the hospital," Wagner said.

In Wagner's absence, the treasurer's office and clerk's office have taken on additional duties to try and fill the gap.

"We certainly wish him (Wagner) well and that his health improves, but from a selfish point of view we definitely like to have him here because it definitely makes a difference," said Treasurer Curt Carson.

Clerk Barbara Pallotta agreed.

"Both Curt and I have been putting in a boatload of hours, because there is tremendous amount of work to be done," Pallotta said. "On a positive note, it's really brought all the staff together. Everyone is juggling stuff and communicating. In that respect, it's been kind of nice."

Both Pallotta and Carson said it would be helpful if Deputy Supervisor Rick Yaeger could take on some additional duties, along with getting a part-time administrator to assist in all departments of the township.

Pallotta said she just wants to make sure Yaeger would be "on board" for taking on more hours.

"He has a second job and he's limited with his own hours in terms of what he can give us and what he can commit too," she said.

Trustee Mark Petterson said an administrative assistant and deputy supervisor won't get the job done.

"We don't have anybody able to perform the statutory duties of the supervisor," he said. "We need somebody up there that is going to lead the township as the supervisor."

Trustee Larry Rosso agreed.

"The need is obviously there," Rosso said. "We've got to fill this position because Barb and Curt are taking on more than they should be in covering for the supervisor, especially since our deputy supervisor is only a part-time employee. He's mostly focused on a single matter and that's the budget and finance."

Pallotta is on a Disability Study Committee with Human Resource Director Carol Gabris and Trustee Neil Wallace to figure out their options. They will bring information to the board as they get it.

According to statute MCL 42.10, in case of disability, the board could temporarily remove all authority from the supervisor except the right to vote and give those duties to someone else. The board could also budget for and then hire a "genuine deputy supervisor."

Wagner said Yaeger is doing an "excellent job" for him.

"He's handling most of the issues that are coming up, even though he's only there three days a week," he said.

He also said the township has been bringing paperwork to his house regularly for him to sign and review.

"We haven't missed a step other than my physical being, which is very, very disappointing. Other than that, the department heads are real quality people and they've been through some rough times. They step up to the plate when needed and I appreciate all that," Wagner said. "I think it speaks volumes for the quality of people that are working for us."

Wagner also praised Carson and Pallotta.

"They have done a tremendous job," he said. "We all take care of each other and that's what we're supposed to do."

However, Pallotta said Wagner's presence is needed.

"It's something that we can't be without, a supervisor, he's in the leadership role," she said. "He needs to be there to keep everything going."

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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