Watervliet City Manager in full gear; Mayor voting privileges re-instated
By: Annette Christie
With two weeks under his belt as Watervliet City Manager, Bill Hodge presented his work to the City Commission at their Tuesday, August 23 meeting. Up first was the resolution passed by the citizens of Watervliet which allows the Mayor to have voting privileges. Hodge told the City Commission that he has been comparing the charter to ordinances and reviewing past minutes of meetings. Through his research, he found that around 1985, the City Commission at the time had enacted in a direction that the sole power of managing the city was in the hands of the Mayor. Hodge found that in 1986, a proposition was put before the citizens of Watervliet asking whether the Mayor should have voting rights, along with the commission, on all matters that require a vote. That proposition passed with 219 yes votes and 119 no votes. The City Commission recognized that proposition officially with a motion that passed unanimously. The City Commission approved a contract with Hodge as the Acting City Manager through November 19. He will be paid $30 an hour with a maximum of 20 hours per week. This comes about following the resignation of LaGrow Consulting which was formally accepted by the City Commission at their August 9 meeting. Following the City Commission acceptance of the letter, they voted to pay out the contract minus six days in which neither Cindy LaGrow nor Emilie Sarratore were available. The City Commission then authorized payment to LaGrow Consulting for the remainder of their contract. While the final invoice from them was for the full month of August, in the motion to pay the invoice, the City Commission deducted the amount totaling the six days, based upon their previous motion. As one of the first tasks assigned to Hodge, he presented an organizational chart to the City Commission which provides a clear picture of the city’s structure. Hodge identified that the top of the chart are the citizens of Watervliet; followed by the Mayor as the facilitator of meetings, general spokesperson for the City, and signature authority; and the City Commission. Hodge drew out the DBA and the Planning Commission from the City Commission, showing a link to building that relationship between them. Hodge suggested that the organization chart provides the tool for the chain of command that employees should follow. The commission voted to adopt the organization chart. Commissioner Duane Cobb voted no. Police Chief Tim Sutherland asked the commission to consider appointing Patrolman Bruce McKamey to fill a vacant full time position within the department. McKamey had been a part time officer previously with a focus on ordinance enforcement. He also asked them to hire another part time officer to fill two shifts that are currently vacant. Sutherland told the commission that he and the previous city manager held interviews and that Dennis Franklin would fit well for the 16 hours that still need to be filled. Franklin has six years’ experience with the Eau Claire Police Department. The City Commission approved the request. The department has three full time officers including the Chief and four part time officers. The department provides 24/7 police coverage. With the resignation of a full time Public Works employee, the City Commission was asked to authorize the filling of that vacancy. Public Works Superintendent Mark Bolin worked with Hodge on getting the position advertised. Bolin asked that the position be filled with another full time employee and someone with skills. They have received some applicants. The City Commission did authorize filling that position. Hodge and the City Commission had some discussion regarding policies and procedures for the filling of vacancies and what is required with regards to posting. He will continue to look into that and if there is not any, they will write some to put in place. Hodge asked the City Commission for the authority to hire a cleaning company for City Hall and the Public Works Department. Under the previous management, office staff was utilized for that duty. Hodge said that he is confident that office staff will have enough to do without adding cleaning duties to their list of responsibilities. He would like a company to come in twice a week with a heavy cleaning on Saturday and a mid-week as well. The City Commission authorized moving forward with that. With the November election quickly approaching, the City needs to find someone authorized to run the election. Although City Clerk Dena Yow has returned to the City of Watervliet, she had already committed to Watervliet Township to run their election. Hodge sought out ideas from various municipalities but did not find anyone that could do that for the city. There is a training coming up in September and Office Clerk II, Krystal Bartel has agreed to go. The City Commission authorized her for that training and to pay her mileage, lodging, and food expenses in connection with that training. To provide for some extra hands where needed around the City, such as in parks and public works, Hodge negotiated with Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey to provide a jail work crew to come out for a few days and work. The City Commission authorized four days of a jail work crew. Hodge also had other discussion items up for the Commission to make them aware of what might be coming up for action in the near future. He is in the process of re-instituting the purchase order system and will be putting a writing policy and procedure in place for that use. He has created a service request form to be used when complaints or concerns are brought to the attention of City Hall. This will be distributed to the appropriate department for action with a master file being kept in the office. Hodge said he would like to see a three-day turnaround on these. To help keep City Hall looking kept up and maintained, Hodge asked the City Commission for approval to have the carpets cleaned, the windows cleaned inside and out, and for the approval to purchase shelving units for the basement storage area at City Hall. Hodge said currently there are boxes being stored on the ground in the basement. The City Commission approved those expenditures, estimated at approximately $800.
Berrien County Youth Fair comes to soggy end
KYRA KRIEGER… 9, of Coloma won 3rd place for her show rabbit and 5th place in the rabbit costume contest. Kyra attends Lake Michigan Catholic Schools. She is the daughter of Valerie and Christian Krieger. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)