The contentious employee handbook issue from November quieted down considerably at the Dorr Township Board meeting Thursday night.
The board agreed to have a committee of former Treasurer Jim Martin, current Trustees John Tuinstra and Chandler Stanton, and perhaps a local citizen review and re-examine the handbook and then make recommendations to the Township Board.
Township Supervisor Jeff Miling four months ago made no secret of his displeasure with the proposed handbook presented back then because included changes that were not highlighted. He specified reduced vacation days permitted after a certain number of years worked and particularly a quiet elimination of four hours off on Good Friday and eight hours off on Christmas Eve.
Miling in 2017 tasked a committee of five, including Martin, Tuinstra and former Trustee Terri, with updating the handbook to streamline rules and policies for employees. The committee did not mention the changes Miling pointed out.
The supervisor said, “I didn’t want to have to read through every word (of the new handbook),” but because he did he was disturbed that changes in policies were made with no warning.
Miling looked straight at Tuinstra and asked, “Who changed this? With just the stroke of a pen these changes (on holidays and vacations) were made.”
Tuinstra did not answer, but instead proposed the board take up the issue again in December when three new Township Board members would be seated. Rios ran unsuccessfully against Miling for supervisor in August, Otto chose not to seek re-election and Martin retired. So the three newcomers are Treasurer Myrna Marr and Trustees Pat Champion and Chandler Stanton.
Rios told Miling, “We didn’t make these changes just to piss off Jeff.”
Tuinstra took umbrage with Miling’s characterization of the changes as “deception” and suggested, “Let’s start the discussion fresh (in December).”
No such committee meetings have been held since November.
Miling Thursday evening said he’d like to find a mechanism for employees to receive pay raises and, for that matter, elected officials.
In other business Thursday night, the board:
- Adopted a resolution to add a third voting precinct in elections. Precinct No. 1 will be the township complex, No. 2 with St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and No. 3 will be the Dorr Christian Reformed Church.
- Was introduced to new Dorr Township Library Director Katie Brinker, who started in January. The new director said the library “has limited capacity (because of the Covid pandemic), but is open to the public.” She added the library last month had its highest circulation numbers since the pandemic began 11 months ago.
- Learned from Parks Commission member Amanda Winters that the commission will spend some of its remaining $17,000 in its budget on a propane furnace at the pavilion in North Park.
- Agreed to pay the $80 annual fee for continuing membership in the Dorr Business Association.
- Indicated the township budget for 2021-22 will include a one-time increase to almost $38,000 the annual contribution to Wayland Area Emergency Services. Leighton Township earlier this month denied the request for an increase, maintaining it’s too expensive.
- Was told by Fire Chief Gary Fordham the department “just keeps getting busier and busier” with 37 calls already this year ahead of last year’s record pace.
- Noted there will be a purchase of a new Ford Explorer for sheriff’s deputies covering the area, with Leighton Township picking up half the tab for $44,000 vehicle.
- Approved the purchase of the Microsoft 365 software application for no more than $3,000 for 10 computers.
- Agreed to pay the $6,958.74 cost overrun for curbside recycling services in 2020, over and above what township residents pay.
- Scheduled a virtual budget workshop via Zoom for6 p.m. Tuesday, March 2.
- Reviewed, but took no action on a proposed agreement for a River-to-River trailway with representative Jennifer Antel.
Tuinstra made some revisions and declared, “It has way too much room for abuse.”
Winters, representing the Park Commission, said, members believe the trail is much needed. She and Tuinstra plan to discuss the proposal further in a Wednesday, March 3, virtual meeting.