Garfield sets part-time supervisor salary

May 16—TRAVERSE CITY — Part-time township supervisors still must draw a salary, so Garfield Township will pay less than it did for a full-time post to its next top elected official.

Trustees on Tuesday unanimously agreed to pay the next supervisor $22,810 per year, starting Nov. 20. It's another step in their move to take some of the supervisor's duties and give them to a township administrator, while leaving the next supervisor's job description as intact as state law requires.

Compare that to the current supervisor's salary of just over $95,000, plus insurance and a 10-percent match to a defined contribution retirement plan, according to outgoing Supervisor Chuck Korn.

"We made the mistake of thinking that since it was no longer a full-time position, that we would be able to pay the new superintendent a per diem," he said Wednesday. "But the state literally prohibits the clerk, supervisor and the treasurer from collecting per diems. So that's weird."

That's based on the amount of hours township Treasurer Chloe Macomber figured a part-time clerk would spend on their statutory duties, from attending various board meetings to serving as the township's legal agent (it's required by law, but Garfield like many local governments pays for an outside attorney).

At the same meeting, trustees agreed to hire Amy Cell Talent to recruit Garfield's future administrator. The township will pay the firm $18,500 to find an administrator who would handle the rest of the current supervisor's duties.

Those would include day-to-day operations and overseeing township departments — save the clerk's and treasurer's offices, since townships around the state put it to voters to elect those department heads. An administrator would also work with the supervisor and other elected officials on drafting annual budgets.

Trustees' 6-0 vote reflected Chris Barsheff's abstention. He told trustees that he wasn't comfortable picking the firm that would be vetting candidates for a job he might seek.

"There could be a conflict picking the person that picks the manager," he told the board. "That's what I thought. Somebody could make the argument that that's not right, but I'd rather not have to deal with it later on."

Amy Cell Talent also helped Traverse City hire its current city manager and Grand Traverse Metro Fire Authority, of which Garfield Township is a member, pick its current chief.

Trustee Molly Agostinelli cited the township's experience with the recruiting firm through the fire authority as a reason to recommend Amy Cell Talent. She liked that Amy Cell interviewed candidates and posted those videos online for clients to see. That seemed like it would skip any additional costs of bringing in candidates for in-person interviews.

Korn told trustees the two top contenders, of which Nate Geinzinger's Double Haul Solutions was the second, was out of four bids. Trustees saw the ones Korn said, "we may be felt most comfortable with."

Trustees previously agreed the township would ask whatever talent firm it hires for advice on what it should pay the position.

Korn previously told the board he wouldn't seek another term as supervisor after a long stint in township government. Trustees agreed with his suggestion to split up the position's duties between an elected, part-time supervisor and an administrator who answers to Garfield's elected officials.

Since then, Korn filed to run again, this time as a trustee. He said he still wants to step back from even a part-time supervisor's duties, in part because he's turning 72 soon and wants to travel more.

But after being asked to stay on in township government, Korn decided to run for trustee instead. He noted he's not the first supervisor to seek this route, nor is he the only one in Grand Traverse County for the current election cycle — Peninsula and Grant townships' respective supervisors both filed to run for a trustee's spot.

If elected, serving as trustee would keep Korn involved in local government, he said. That's how he chose to file after wrestling with whether to step back from local government altogether or stay on as supervisor, he said.

"I deserve to take a break," he said. "I want to get out here and I do want to help as much as I can in the meantime to keep everybody on the path, and know where we've been and know where the rocks are."