Raises for city

BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Raises across the board were approved for Clarkston city employees, but the overall administration budget is down.
“If we want to retain people, have quality government, and be competitive – this has to be our direction,” said City Manager Jonathan Smith at Monday’s City Council meeting.
Council voted unanimously to approve an administrative staffing proposal presented by Smith, which addresses the need to offer competitive compensations for employee retention.
Changes include a raise for Clerk Jennifer Speagle in her new post, from $21,500 to $26,500; hire a part-time administrative assistant; retain Greg Cote as city treasurer, from which he recently retired, with an adjusted schedule to accommodate his new job; increase Smith’s salary from $30,000 to $34,000; increase hourly salary of DPW Supervisor Mike Speagle and DPW worker Caleb Withrow by $1; eliminate the city code enforcement position, formerly held by Jennifer Speagle; and eliminate Friday hours for the city office.
“We see very little traffic on Fridays,” said Smith.
City offices were previously open from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on Fridays. DPW staff will continue to work five days a week, he said.
The proposal reduces the total administration cost from $176,144 a year to $171,972, mostly through the elimination of the enforcement position, which paid $21,500 a year. Council member Scott Reynolds said the changes are appropriate, pointing out Ortonville is offering $60,000 for a new city manager.
“The market fixes where you compensate people,” Reynolds said.
The administrative pay changes were added to the 2019-2020 budget, which was unanimously approved by City Council at Monday’s meeting.
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A recommendation to pay recently retired Clerk Sandy Miller 12 weeks of severance salary, $4,028, was met with skepticism by the City Council, Monday.
“It makes me little bit uncomfortable,” said Council member Al Avery. “Are we setting a bar by doing it? What is the cutoff, five year, two years – it concerns me, there’s no structure in place.”
City Manager Jonathan Smith recommended the severance pay for Miller, who retired her post effective June 21.
“Severance pay is not required by city ordinance, but customary municipal severance pay for a six-year employee ranges from 2-24 weeks,” Smith said in his request.
The council postponed the vote, asking for more information. Jennifer Speagle was appointed new city clerk, effective June 21.
“Jennifer continues to amaze me all the time in her skills and abilities,” Smith said at the June 10 council meeting. “She is the glue holding this city together right now.”
Speagle was the city office administrator for the past year and a half. She also filled in when the clerk was on vacation, prepared meeting agendas and minutes, and is familiar with FOIAs, Smith said.
“This is not a step right in and do it but far less painful path to put Jennifer in, as opposed to posting and bringing in a clerk who doesn’t know anything about Clarkston,” Smith said.