Source: Sherman Publications

Building director back from 60 day suspension

by Trevor Keiser

July 27, 2011

Independence Township Building Director Dave Belcher is back to work, after receiving a 60 day suspension with no pay for refusal to repay $3,000 in bonuses.

“I’m happy to be back and put the other stuff behind me and move forward,” Belcher said. “I want to continue to make improvements to allow the building department to best serve the community.”

With his return, he is required to repay the $3,000 in 13 months, and is also on a year probation. As part of probation, Belcher meets with Clerk Barbra Pallotta to discuss what he is working on and assess his work.

Pallotta meets with Belcher every day for the first 30 days, weekly over the following 60 days, and every two weeks over the following 90 days. Twice a month, Pallotta will write an evaluation and submit it to the board.

“It’s called a ‘Performance Improvement Plan.’ It’s a tool that’s common in any organization to help improve an employee’s performance,” Pallotta said. “That’s what I hope to get out of it – making him a stronger, better employee.”

To help, the board authorized Pallotta $1,000 to hire a certified inspector to audit randomly inspections by Belcher.

“After the audit, it will give me a really good picture of Dave’s strengths and weaknesses, so we can make him the best building official that we could possibly have,” Pallotta said.

Trustee Mark Petterson called paying $1,000 for someone to inspect Belcher’s work “ridiculous.”

“Our building director is a certified master planner, he is licensed by the state builder,” Petterson said. “He’s been doing this stuff for a very, very, very long time and I don’t know what their deal is with this – once again this is another waste of taxpayers’ money.”

He noted he talks with the construction community and has heard nothing but good things about Belcher from developers and construction workers.

“I respect these developers and construction workers,” he said. “They’re outstanding people and want to do things right.”

Trustee David Lohmeier felt hiring the inspector was a “non-issue.”

“It’s just part of his requirements coming back from suspension,” Lohmeier said. “It’s just not a big deal to me. If I was suspended I would come back and expect there to be a clear layout of what’s expected of me. I think she (Pallotta) did a really good job at doing that.”

Trustee Larry Rosso said Belcher ought to be grateful he got his job back.

“There is a minimum that should be done to make sure he is doing his responsibilities as he’s suppose to do them, so I feel that’s very legitimate and part of the probation process,” Rosso said. “We got to make sure there is accountability after what he put us through.”

Belcher didn’t take issue with his work being reviewed.

“If that’s what the township (board) feels is necessary I’m OK with that,” he said.

The $3,000 to be paid back was money authorized without board approval by Supervisor Dave Wagner in 2009 for Belcher’s work on the new Township Hall.

In 2008, Wagner went to the board to authorize a $2,000 bonus to Belcher for his work on the senior center.