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Posted: 03/19/14

Village trustees split on
elected official evaluation

Observer Staff Writer
      Heated discussions divided the Village Council on whether elected positions need to undergo examinations and changes.
       The Village Board of Trustees voted 4-3 to having the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) speak with village trustees about conducting organizational assessments of the village clerk, administrator and treasurer positions.
       Village President Mike Lee and Trustees Ron Rossell and Russell Rinke were the dissenting votes at the March 17 meeting.
       Last month, village officials talked over the possibility of changing the clerk and treasurer positions to being appointed as opposed to being elected by voters. The discussions also left trustees scratching their heads over the exact responsibilities of the clerk and administrator, as Village Clerk Marian McLaughlin has performed both jobs for the past 28 years.
       Trustee Bob Hart contacted SEMCOG to see if they could offer consulting services for organizational assessments. He said SEMCOG responded in the positive, saying they provide the service for free and could give recommendations on the functions of the three positions.
       "I don't think without any recommendations we would be able to make decisions or judgments on anything," he said.
       Trustee Mike Cregar said the village has the clerk, president, treasurer and three trustee positions up for election this year, so there is an opportunity to evaluate and review the roles.
       "Maybe we are doing everything the most efficient way, which is what I suspect, but I also like to have (SEMCOG) give some suggestions about how we could operate differently in the future and this might be the opportunity to explore that," he said.
       When asked who would provide the information to SEMCOG's representatives, Hart suggested the village offices. McLaughlin said she couldn't commit to the evaluation, suggesting a committee be put together instead.
       "I'm not going to have the time to bring up all that data," she said. "It takes me weeks to do the audit, and I just don't have weeks to do this."
       Lee claimed Hart didn't provide job descriptions SEMCOG sent related to the positions, though Hart argued he never received them. Lee said in addition to SEMCOG's documents, the village has job descriptions through its General Law Village Act.
       Following the meeting, Lee said he voted against the motion because the entire board didn't receive the SEMCOG descriptions, but also because an assessment would be a time-consuming process.
       "Now you're going to have somebody that is going to be hanging over your shoulder making sure who's getting what phone calls," he said. "The village has run smoothly, and I don't believe there should be any type of change there."
       A subcommittee made up of Hart, Cregar and Rossell will meet with SEMCOG to discuss the assessment, possibly in the next two weeks.
       Regarding the change from elected to appointed positions, Lee and Rinke voiced their disagreements with such a move.
       "I think that it's really important that all the officials be elected one way or another," Rinke said.
       Residents also spoke against the change, saying it would take away their constitutional rights to vote.
       "The old way is government through the people, by the people, and for the people," said Paul Hanson, former village president. "The proposed new way is through us, by us, for us."

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