The Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners dealt with numerous matters during its last meeting of the year.
Some of the issues before it included restructuring the county’s recycling program oversight, expanding the human resources director’s duties and the creation of a Beaver Island multi-use garage facility sub-committee.
The following items of interest from the Dec. 23 meeting are listed in the order they were addressed.
The Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners voted to restructure the Charlevoix County Recycling Program’s recycling committee, placing the conservation district as the lead of the recycling program and the Charlevoix County Maintenance Supervisor and Conservation District employee Frank Shaler as the program’s new overseer.
The recycling committee itself will be suspended until a new set of operating procedures can be developed.
Nancy Ferguson, the former Chairman of the Charlevoix County Recycling Committee, spoke during the public comment portion of the Wednesday Dec. 23 Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners meeting.
“Today you have the recycling on your agenda but it’s listed as ‘restructure program’ and I would just like to say one thing about that and that is that it’s perfectly your right to restructure…. The recycling committee doesn’t exactly agree with it. We think it’s better the way that it is but we also gave our ‘congratulations’ … and said, if it’s moving it’s moving forward, we’ll see that,” she told the Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners. “But, I do think that you should have listed it as ‘restructuring program for the recycling committee’ so that anybody besides me who’s reading this would have some idea what you are talking about.”
She added, “It has been my privilege to serve on that committee for 12 years. I extend my congratulations … to all who worked on that committee because they worked in snow, rain, sleet and hale for 10 years. We made the budgets. We made the contracts. We did all of the events that we did for free: household hazardous waste; watching the bins.”
Ferguson said she was glad to see all the good work the Charlevoix County Recycling program has done over the years.
“Recycling is not going away in Charlevoix County,” she said.
Former Charlevoix County Commissioner and Charlevoix County Recycling Committee member Shirlene Tripp said she is a little concerned about putting more responsibilities on county personnel by restructuring the recycling committee.
“I do wish it luck and I probably will stay aboard to see what’s going on,” she added.
Charlevoix County Commissioner George T. Lasater (R-District 1) said the more people involved in county government, the better, and that he did not support reducing the size of the committee.
Charlevoix County Commissioner Larry Sullivan (R-District 6) said the recycling committee has developed cost-saving measures, and that to limit its power will not benefit the county.
Long-time Charlevoix County Recycling Committee Member Michelle Rick-Biddick said the committee has saved the county countless dollars, and added that she hopes the committee will have adequate representations from across Charlevoix County going into the future.
The measure was approved with both Lasater and Sullivan voting “no.”
Beaver Island garage
According to Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners Chairman Joel Evans (R-District 4), the sub-committee concept was spearheaded by Charlevoix County Commissioner Chris Christensen (R-District 2) to work on the primary issues relating to the Beaver Island multi-use garage facility project.
The sub-committee will consist of representatives from the Charlevoix County Sheriff Office, Charlevoix County Transit, Charlevoix County Road Commission and the Charlevoix County Human Resources Director.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Charlevoix County Commissioner Ron Reinhardt (R-District 3).
The Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners will be represented by Charlevoix County Human Resource Coordinator Kevin Shepard.
“It’s a move forward,” Reinhardt said. “We have already agreed to build that building. Now it’s just to get all our ducks in a row.”
Reinhardt said the sub-committee will help progress the project faster than it would have otherwise gone.
Charlevoix County Commissioner Larry Sullivan (R-District 5) said he had some concerns with the Beaver Island garage sub-committee concept.
“I thought we had a building and grounds committee that dealt with these issues,” Sullivan said. “And I’ve contented all along that we’re looking to buy ground, which is dirt, or ground, and we’re looking to build a building, which is building and that fits right into building and grounds.”
Sullivan said the existing committee is in place to deal with a project like the one in question.
Reinhardt said the sub-committee will report to the Charlevoix County Building and Grounds Committee.
Charlevoix County Commissioner Richard Gillespie (R-District 5) said the sub-committee’s job is to “iron out” details and report to the building and grounds committee which then reports to the Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners.
“I don’t really think we’re straying off the path very far,” Gillespie said. “It’s just to get the finer points between the three groups.”
Sullivan interjected, “So it’s straying off the path a little bit.”
Christensen said the sub-committee is designed in an effort to narrow issues and allow all entities to “hammer out all the details” as the project nears its next phase.
Shepard said the sub-committee will speed up the process.
Charlevoix County Commissioner George T. Lasater (R-District 1) also supported the concept of the sub-committee.
Sullivan asked if the sub-committee will definitely report to the building and grounds committee. He was told that it will make recommendations to the building and grounds committee.
The Charlevoix County Road Commission will also have a representative on the newly created sub-committee.
A motion to appoint the committee—without naming specific members—was approved by unanimous vote.
Charlevoix County Human Resource Coordinator Kevin Shepard has had his title changed and the scope of his powers increased after the Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners voted to change his title to Charlevoix County Coordinator and Human Resource Director.
According to the board’s resolution, it was following a job performance evaluation that it was determined that Shepard’s duties had increased in number and his responsibilities grown.
“The County Coordinator/Human Resource Director reports directly to the Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners and is responsible for the county’s day-to-day operations, as well as coordinating the internal operations relating to human resources,” Shepard’s new job description reads. “The board of commissioners and county coordinator/human resources work closely together to ensure the needs of Charlevoix County citizens, guests and businesses are met through high quality government services.”
Charlevoix County Commissioner George T. Lasater (R-District 1) asked if Shepard’s pay would be increased.
Shepard’s contract will next be looked at in May, when his pay may be increased.
“Looking at the job description, what is the difference between a county manager and this job description?” Lasater asked.
Shepard said the level of power and authority is the main difference.
Shepard can be empowered to act on behalf of the board but he cannot act outside of the board without its say-so.
Charlevoix County Commissioner Larry Sullivan (R-District 6) was the lone “no” vote on the matter.
“It doesn’t reflect on Kevin (Shepard) and his performance. However, I’ve talked to a number of people: city managers, county managers, county administrators in other counties,” Sullivan said. “There’s two ways you can go about it: you can hire a person and then create a position for that person; or, you can create a position and fill that with the best person available. Kevin’s been doing HR work and he’s been pulled away to do some other things.”
He added, “I campaigned on creating a county manager position. I think we need one. We’ve needed one for a long time but I don’t think we’re going about it in the most expeditious or thoughtful manner.”
Shepard’s coordinator duties include the following:
• See that the directives of the board are faithfully executed
• Attends county meetings and makes recommendations to the board
• Be knowledgeable in general government operations and have expertise in the field of management
• Eliminate duplication of effort, avoid conflict of interest and encourage harmony, cooperation and morale among diverse county departments
• Provide the county board with pertinent information, in cooperation with department heads concerning the affairs of the county, future financial needs and county offices, departments and outside agencies
• Work with the county board and department heads to develop and administer all applicable county policies
• Promote and coordinate open communication between the county board and the various operating departments and promote inter-departmental cooperation and support
• Act as liaison between county and local, regional, state and federal agencies on intergovernmental problems and activities as directed by the board
• Attend professional meetings and otherwise keep informed of new developments in county government operations and management
• Handle special projects as assigned by the county board
• Under the board’s direction, act as a representative of the board to carry out assignments and projects pertaining to relate boards and county affiliated committees and report back to the board
Shepard’s human resource duties include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Serve as personnel director with departments as directed by the board
• Handles human resource related duties including facilitating the development and administration of general work rules and personnel policies with continuous updates to the county handbook as necessary and approved by the board
• Support department heads in hiring procedures
• Assist the personnel committee in negotiating labor negotiations and or association agreements
• Screening and selection of job applicants
• Administering union contracts
• Oversight of pay plans, maintain compliance labor law and approve all changes in employee status for payroll purposes
• Conducts wage and benefit surveys to determine competitive wage rate
Advise personnel committee of recommended wages based on competitive wage and job descriptions
• Review staffing needs in each office
• Assist department heads with training and discipline
• Assure compliance with equal opportunity and safety provisions
• Conducts new employee orientation
• Advises management in appropriate resolution of employee relations issues
• Handles all unemployment compensation claims, disputes, tracking and follow-up
• Review workers’ compensation cases and investigates accidents as well as preparing reports for workers compensation cases
• Keep OSHA logs
• Labor law postings and compliance
• Post job openings
• Update job descriptions
• Prepares employee separation notices and conducts exit interviews when appropriate
• Prepares and recommends procedures to reduce absenteeism and turnover
• Perform all personnel-related duties
The Marine Safety Grant Program application has been received and the Charlevoix County Personnel/Internal Government Committee recommends the grant application be accepted by the Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners.
This grant is 75 percent covered by the State of Michigan and helps the Charlevoix County Sheriff Office’s ability to patrol the water, especially during the larger summer events like Venetian Festival.
The total cost of the additional sheriff office staff is $64,4481; that figure includes uniforms, insurance and salary.
Charlevoix County is working to replace the metal markers which dictate various property borders throughout the county. This grant, for $45,019, is a renewal of an existing grant that will help fund this effort.
Preservation Association of Beaver Island lease agreement
A lease agreement between Charlevoix County represented by the Charlevoix County Commission on Aging and the Preservation of Beaver Island has been received and reviewed by the county board.
This five-year lease renewal will allow the COA to have non-exclusive rights to areas located within the Beaver Island Community Center for a fee of $810 monthly which includes rent as well as all utilities for the duration of the lease. The agreement will automatically continue on a month-to-month basis in the event the lease term expires after either party has given notice it will not automatically renew.
Community Development Block Grant administration
The county’s grant to upgrade housing conditions for its low and very low income homeowners was renewed in the amount of $175,000 in the form of a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for Homeowner Assistance through the county allocation as approved by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
The Charlevoix County Transportation Authority anticipates a cash deficit of approximately $15,000 through May of 2014. Lower revenues and higher-than-expected Ironton Ferry renovation costs were cited as the cause of the financial shortfall.
The new ferry experienced a mechanical issue last season but officials say it will be ready for service in the spring of 2014.
The Charlevoix County Contingency Fund will pay for half of the $15,000 disbursement; the Charlevoix County Road Commission will cover the other $7,500.