LETTER: Supervisor: Stop bickering on township wage issue

BY JIM QUINLAN

Mecosta

TO THE EDITOR:

As a member of the Morton Township Board, I need to provide some comment in response to the letter to the editor written by trustee John Burkle in the March 10 edition of the Pioneer.

John Burkle and Trustee Mark Kuzma did not ask for a raise. They receive over $7,000 per year. Trustees attend two to three meetings each month. They do not hold any posted office hours. Each meeting lasts less than two hours.

Let’s just guess that they spend 10 hours per month on other township business. That means they spend 16 hours per month as a township official. They are making $36 per hour give or take, not including the fringe benefits.

Treasurer Doug Behrends makes more money than any other elected official, and certainly deserves the pay.

These salaries were established under the prior township administration, of which John, Mark and Doug were members. They voted in favor of a resolution establishing an Officials Compensation Commission in December 2008, apparently feeling (as I do) that a committee from the community can better set wages than our setting our own salaries as was the custom.

All five board members were involved in picking the five commissioners, who were unanimously approved by the board. No changes were recommended the first year the commission met. I agreed with that. Their report indicated they would like to review the work of the board later to see the progress we made. I may have been greedy in asking for more money, but felt the commission did their assigned duties when they recommended a small pay raises for the clerk and myself this year and a cost of living raise for everyone next year. State law does not allow any member to abstain from voting as setting salaries is a mandatory duty of our job.

I am confused about why Trustee Kuzma would make a motion to accept the recommendations of the commission and Trustee Burkle would support it if they intended all along to vote no on the motion. Their actions led attendees to believe they were in favor of the proposal. That action led to no discussion except to thank the commission for their hard work. By then voting no on their own motion they send the message that they don’t trust the commissioners and makes one wonder why they voted in favor of establishing a commission in the first place.

I am happy with the $992 raise in my pay. My salary will be $25,792 which will still be $4,690 below the treasurer’s. If John, Mark and Doug finally decide that the township should not continue to pay the former part time clerk’s medical benefits for the rest of his life (over $12,000 per year), the cost of the minimal pay raises will be covered for several years.

I hope we can end this petty bickering, agree to disagree on some matters, but work together for the betterment of the township.

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