Source: Sherman Publications

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Superintendent surprise
Trustee brings manager idea back to township

by Trevor Keiser

October 26, 2011

For Independence Township Trustee David Lohmeier, it's time to reconsider hiring a township superintendent.

"I'm no longer pursuing what I thought was the easy path, the quick kind of team approach because I don't think it will work," Lohmeier said at the Oct. 18 meeting. "I think we'll have exactly the type of behavior I don't want to see and, quite frankly, spend two months dealing with."

Lohmeier will propose appointing a part-time superintendent at the Nov. 1 meeting.

According to state law, MCL 42.10, township boards can delegate powers and duties of the supervisor to the superintendent. They used the same law to create the human resource director position.

"It is the authority of the board that we do that. It is not something that is subject to the whim of somebody returning and kicking somebody out of their position," Lohmeier said. "We would have the ability to have that position in place for as long as we thought it was fit and necessary and helpful."

Treasurer Curt Carson agreed it was an issue that needed to be addressed.

"I do think regardless of what avenue is taken, there will probably be some active dialogue," he said. "And there should be, to make sure all the bases are covered and we understand what we're doing."

After reading the statute and looking at responsibilities for the position, Clerk Barbra Pallotta believes a superintendent is more appropriate than a temporary supervisor.

"One of things I'm concerned about is the person we'd actually end up appointing. Even if I support the position, I have to support the person too. It kind of goes hand in hand," Pallotta said. "I'm anxious and curious to know who that person is as soon as possible."

Trustee Mark Petterson said he'd like to see an attorney general's opinion because he thinks it would be "extremely helpful to the board to understand" they are doing things within their legal rights and "it's a comfort of protection" for him.

"I just think that would be very important, most importantly to the public so they know we are not pulling something shady over their eyes because I don't want that perception at all," Petterson said. "I want it to be clear and open, transparent and right out there with everybody."

Trustee Neil Wallace said "it's long past time to act," and he hopes the notion for an attorney general opinion is not "to bog things down."

Wallace also noted an AG opinion has to be sought by a state official and said the opinion is to "interpret a provision of the law that is somehow unclear."

"I don't think there is anything unclear about 42.10," Wallace said. "It gives the board more authority and more assurance that there won't be the kind of game playing going on that has been suggested. I'm sure we'll hack it all out at the next board meeting."

Lohmeier said he still hopes to use the savings from the supervisor's salary after disability is paid.

If not, he said he has other options available to choose from, and he is just looking for "the least painful."

"My very genuine ambition here is not self-serving, but to make sure we got a well functioning government to the end of our term," he said.