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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 04/30/14
Village trustees agree
to analysis of govt positions
by CHRIS GRAYElected officials will have their roles better defined for Romeo trustees.
Observer Staff Writer
The Village Board of Trustees agreed on April 21 to have a Southeast Michigan Council of Government (SEMCOG) representative analyze the positions of clerk, administrator and treasurer for a potential reorganization.
The findings are expected to be reported at the board's May 19 meeting.
With Village Clerk Marian McLaughlin -- who also serves as administrator -- and Treasurer Mindy Rossell stepping down this year, a subcommittee of Trustees Bob Hart, Christine Malzahn and Ron Rossell are researching a restructuring of village government.
Hart said the goal is to have a clearer picture of the roles and responsibilities of those positions as well as their compensation prior to the election.
"We really have to take a look, it's been 28 years," he said.
The committee is also examining whether the positions should be appointed instead of elected. The village attorney was consulted on the matter and SEMCOG provided a study showing how Romeo compares to 14 other similarly-sized communities in southeast Michigan.
According to the study, only Romeo and New Haven elect their clerk and treasurer. A total of five elect their clerk and eight appoint the position, and all the communities appoint their treasurers, though Holly appoints a combined clerk/treasurer.
Regarding a combined position, Hart said following advice from legal counsel, the village would have to appoint it or keep the positions separate.
"The problem would be of having a clerk/treasurer position to be an elected position, it doesn't exist," he said.
To change them to appointed, the board would need a super-majority vote of at least five trustees in favor. If such a vote were made, residents would have an opportunity to collect the signatures of at least 10 percent of registered voters to have the issue placed on a ballot.
"We could end up with having people running for office and also on that ballot is whether they would be elected or appointed," Hart said. "It gets to be kind of messy."
Hart said appointing the village president could become a possibility if a village manager or similar position was put in place. In the evaluation, 11 of the communities appoint a village manager. A petition could be put forth by residents to have the appointment of a village manager on the ballot.
Malzahn said she saw no point in deciding on the elected positions becoming appointed at this time, but that those interested in running for the positions should know their duties.
"If we have to do an ordinance change for a manager, everybody's got a clear understanding of what those roles and what the salaries are going to be," she said.
Hart said any changes to compensation for the positions should be done by July due to election deadlines.
With McLaughlin in agreement to speak with SEMCOG, Rossell said he had no issue with SEMCOG evaluating the positions. No other board members objected.
Rossell said, however, with SEMCOG's evaluation showing the village running efficiently compared to the other communities, making changes didn't make sense to him.
"We're saving literally tens of thousands of dollars the way our government is structured today, and it's working," he said.
The evaluation depicted Romeo's general government expenses per capita among the top four out of the 15 communities. The only areas of concern were a lack of economic development spending and subsidizing the water and sewer funds.
The analysis also examined personnel levels. The comparison shows Romeo with 3.3 police for every 1,000 residents, above the state average of 2.2 and national of 3.3. The Department of Public Works has 2.7 per 1,000 residents, above the 0.8 state and national average.
Trustees said the above-average staffing is from Romeo's preference to have its own police department, water, sewer and road maintenance.
Conversely, there are 1.5 administrative employees per every 1,000 residents, below the state average of 3.1 and the national average of 4.7.