There is often rancor in arguments at Dorr Township Board meetings, but it was cranked up a notch in “discussions” Thursday night about township employees’ pay.
Once again, there were three camps in the debate — One opposing increases, one defending them and a third trying to find a compromise on how much. In the end, the compromisers appeared to prevail.
The Township Board approved a raise for Office Manager Vicki Fifelski, from $18.70 to $20 per hour. There was some resistance to the 8.4% bump.
“Vicki’s been with us for eight years,” said Supervisor Jeff Miling. “We’re getting an awful lot with her,” adding that she is certified in assessing and is versatile in running day-to-day operations at township hall.
The pay for Maintenance Supervisor Randy Grantham also was proposed, from $19.50 to $20.
Trustee Chandler Stanton flatly stated he believes the maintenance supervisor deserves more money than office manager and he proposed an increase to $20.50 per hour.
Miling said in response, “The skill set for Vicki is so diverse. She’d be hard to replace… It’s hard on employees when you don’t treat them equally.”
He noted that Grantham was hired nearly two years ago at $18 per hour and since then has received a raise at $19.50.
Regardless, both raises were approved, on a 7-0 vote for Fifelski and 4-3 for Grantham, with Miling, Trustee Pat Champion and Treasurer Myrna Marr dissenting.
The real battle, as usual, was over the pay for the supervisor, treasurer and clerk.
There was a proposal last month to bump the three officials’ annual salaries from $26,400 to $40,000 after a special committee met to make recommendations. Trustee John Tuinstra immediately suggested that $5,000 for each official’s raise instead go for roads, thereby cutting the figure to $35,000.
The board in March kicked the can down the road until Thursday night.
Stanton proposed $32,792, but then withdrew when he learned the salary then would go up to $35,000 in the next fiscal year. It would have been $2,981 per month.
A lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth followed.
Stanton maintained, “We all willfully ran for office, knowing what the salary is.”
Marr replied that she felt like, “I was smart enough to do the job, but dumb enough to run.”
Marr served as deputy treasurer for more than a year and ran last November for the job when Jim Martin retired.
Stanton said, “To go from $28,000 to $35,000 is a rise of $7,000 (or 25 percent), which is hard for the public to swallow.”
Miling asked him, “How much were our raises in the last couple of years? None… It’s demoralizing to work without getting raises.”
Marr said, “I want to work as a team player here, but I want to work for fair wages.”
She added that she has acquired skills, such as understanding B, S & A accounting software, to do the job properly.
Stanton proposed a 6 percent hike along with a 1.3% cost of living increase, but no one on the board seconded the motion.
Champion then suggested the officials’ pay be bumped up to $2,800 per month, effective June 1, an increase of 16%. It was approved on a 6-1 vote with Stanton dissenting.
The salaries of the four trustees remain at $3,500 per year, but an incentive of $50 per meeting was added to encourage better attendance.