The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Township to keep ad-hoc salary committee


January 15, 2019


Ironwood Township — The township will stay the course with its ad-hoc salary committee for now, after the board of trustees voted Monday against establishing a more formal compensation commission.

As part of the recent budget process, the township established a three-person committee made up of Trustee Marlene Saari-Mieloszyk, Trustee Kevin Lyons and resident Sharon Hallberg to examine issues related to salaries, raises and compensation FOR township employees.

Saari-Mieloszyk, who heads the committee, reported Tuesday it has met for the first time and has a lot of information to review.

She asked the board if they wanted to create a more formal, five-person compensation commission to replace the salary committee or if it should continue its work.

Both a committee and a commission would make a recommendation on compensation to the township board. However, two-thirds of the board would need to agree to overrule the commission’s recommendation, whereas only a simply majority is needed for a committee.

The Michigan Township Association recommends an ad-hoc committee, according to Supervisor Steve Boyd, in part over concerns about the fairness of the selection process and the inflexibility of the commission’s recommendation.

Boyd said it could be difficult to select five people everyone felt was fair toward both the taxpayers and the employees.

“To give you an example, I could easily appoint five guys off of my bowling team that all think I deserve a 25 percent raise. People aren’t going to think that’s very fair,” Boyd said. “I could also appoint five people that all think we should be half-time employees and that wouldn’t be fair.

“Finding an in-between that really looks out for everybody is a tough thing.”

Lyons raised the issue that appointing a commission insulates the board from the decision, which in effect removes the voters from the process as they can choose not to re-elect members of the board but don’t have a say in the fate of appointed commission members.

“If you appoint them for five years, they’re on there. Even if you’re gone … they’re still on there,” he said.

Even with Monday’s vote, the board could decide to create the more formal commission in the future.

If it did, the commission would consist of five members selected by the township supervisor and approved by the board shortly after the passage of the necessary ordinance establishing the commission.

The initial appointees would serve terms of between one and five years to create staggered terms, after which terms would consist of five years.

If the board did form a commission it would start the following year, according to information presented at the meeting.

Several board members indicated a willingness to see how the committee worked this year and then re-examining whether a commission should be created.

The board voted 6-1 to continue with the salary committee, with Saari-Mieloszyk casting the lone no vote.

After the meeting she told the Daily Globe her vote was in response to residents who felt the commission was necessary.

In other action:

—The board voted to close the gate at Lost Lake Park to prevent vehicles from accessing the park during the winter. The decision came because someone had caused $500 in damage to the road each of the past two years by improperly using a snowplow to clear the road back to the lake. Boyd said the township didn’t know who plowed the road. Lost Lake remains accessible by snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle and on foot.

—The board agreed to expand the membership of the committee examining what the township should do regarding marijuana-related businesses in the township as the result of the legalization of marijuana in Michigan on the November ballot. The board agreed to add four members to the seven-person group after residents said they felt it wasn’t representative enough.

—The board set the township’s spring cleanup for June 8.


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