Stories indexed with the term ‘compensation’

AAATA Gives CEO Retroactive Raise

The board of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority has voted to approve a raise for CEO Michael Ford that extends retroactively to October 2012. The board’s vote – to award 3% increases for the previous and current years – came at a special meeting held before the board’s annual retreat on June 10, 2014.

The context of the salary increase includes Ford’s selection as the new CEO for the southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority, but it’s not clear at this point whether Ford will take the job. At the June 10 meeting Ford said, “Right now, I’m still the CEO here…”

The increase for the period from October 2012 through September 2013 raised Ford’s base salary from $164,800 to $169,744. The … [Full Story]

County Board Elects New Officers for 2013

At their first meeting of 2013, on Jan. 2, the candidates who won their races on Nov. 6, 2012 were sworn in as Washtenaw County commissioners. Because of redistricting that took effect with this latest election cycle, the new county board has nine commissioners instead of the 11 it had previously.

The commissioners were sworn in by Washtenaw County clerk Larry Kestenbaum. They are: Kent Martinez-Kratz (D-District 1), Dan Smith (R-District 2), Alicia Ping (R-District 3), Felicia Brabec (D-District 4), Rolland Sizemore Jr. (D-District 5), Ronnie Peterson (D-District 6), Andy LaBarre (D-District 7), Yousef Rabhi (D-District 8) and Conan Smith (D-District 9). All but two of the commissioners – Martinez-Kratz and LaBarre – are incumbents.

The board also elected its officers for … [Full Story]

County Faces Tension Over Veterans Group

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Dec. 5, 2012): More than 20 veterans attended the county board’s final meeting of 2012, hoping to sway commissioners on three appointments to the county’s dept. of veterans affairs committee.

Michael Smith, Ira Brownridge, Washtenaw County veterans affairs, Washtenaw County board of commissioners, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Michael Smith, director of the Washtenaw County dept. of veterans affairs, and Ira Brownridge, a veteran of the conflict in Iraq who was appointed to the county’s veterans affairs committee – the first veteran from that conflict to serve on the committee. (Photos by the writer.)

The board ultimately voted to appoint Gregg Weaver, Robert Fletcher and Ira Brownridge. Weaver and Fletcher are reappointments. Brownridge – who was appointed to a vacancy following the death of World War II veteran Eddie Steele – is the first veteran from the conflict in Iraq to be appointed to the committee. The majority of commissioners supported the continuity of reappointments, and the chance to appoint someone to represent the next generation of veterans.

The vote on these appointments was 9-2, with dissent from Dan Smith (R-District 2) and Wes Prater (D-District 4). Prater and Smith wanted the board to respect the recommendations from the veterans posts in the county, which had supported the appointments of three different men: John Kinzinger, David “Doc” Martinez, and Elmer White – all veterans of the Vietnam war, and active in the Washtenaw County chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America. Kinzinger, White and other veterans spoke during public commentary, urging the board to appoint the most qualified applicants and those who have long been involved in helping veterans in this community. They also addressed what some referred to as a dysfunctional department, and felt that it needed more oversight.

In other action at the meeting, the board gave a one-time salary adjustment to 940 of the county’s 1,321 employees – people who had taken unpaid “banked leave” days in 2012. The payment will equal 1.5% of their salaries, or an average of about $800. Several commissioners praised employees for making sacrifices in the past to help balance the county’s budget. The vote on the pay adjustment was 10-1, with dissent from Dan Smith (R-District 2).

The commissioners also gave themselves a pay increase, bumping up their base pay from $15,500 to $15,750 annually and replacing per diem payments with stipends, effective Jan. 1, 2013. In addition, four officers of the board will be getting compensation beyond their base pay. Dan Smith was the only commissioner to vote against these increases.

Commissioners gave final approval to the 2013 general fund budget of $102.84 million, with a net increase of one full-time position. [.pdf of 2013 Washtenaw County budget] The largest expenditures relate to personnel, which accounts for 66% of general fund expenses. The 2013 budget shows a $4.7 million increase in that category, compared to the original 2013 budget that commissioners approved in late 2011.

The Dec. 5 meeting also included farewells to four outgoing commissioners – Barbara Bergman, Leah Gunn, Wes Prater and Rob Turner – as well as to Janis Bobrin, the county’s water resources commissioner, who did not seek re-election. Commissioners and staff also had a moment of silence to honor Patrick Barrie, executive director of the Washtenaw Community Health Organization, died suddenly this month. Bergman, a long-time WCHO board member, called his death is a great loss for people who use WCHO services. “They have lost a champion,” she said, “and I have lost the dearest of friends.” [Full Story]

County Board Finalizes Bump to Their Pay

Washtenaw County commissioners voted to increase their base salaries from $15,500 to $15,750 annually and replace per diem payments with stipends, effective Jan. 1, 2013. The action occurred at the county board’s Dec. 5, 2012 meeting. Commissioners had previously debated the issue at their Nov. 7 meeting, giving the increase initial approval at that time. On Dec. 5, the only commissioner voting against the changes was Dan Smith (R-District 2).

Most commissioners currently are paid a salary of $15,500. The new amount of $15,750 is calculated by indexing it to one-half the median “step” of the lowest grade salary among county employees. The resolution authorizing the increase also directs future boards to adjust commissioner salaries based on this same calculation.

Officers … [Full Story]

2013 County Budget Includes Board Pay Bump

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Nov. 7, 2012): A long post-election meeting included several debates with an impact on county finances.

Barbara Bergman, Yousef Rabhi, Washtenaw County board of commissioners, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Washtenaw County commissioners Barbara Bergman and Yousef Rabhi at the Nov. 7 county board meeting. Rabhi usually wears his hair tied back, but he let it down at the beginning of the meeting to announce a plan to raise money for local shelters – he’s collecting pledges for each inch he cuts off. (Photos by the writer.)

Taking another step toward addressing a year-long controversy over how much to pay for animal control services, the board authorized contracting with the Humane Society of Huron Valley for $500,000 annually. The action enables the administration to negotiate a contract with HSHV for up to four years, with the option of adjusting the amount based on changes to the taxable value of property in the county. Voting against the resolution were Dan Smith, Wes Prater and Rolland Sizemore Jr. Ronnie Peterson was absent.

The county would not likely pay that entire amount. There are preliminary commitments from five municipalities with their own animal control ordinances, to help the offset the cost of the HSHV contract. Those entities are the cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, Pittsfield Township, and Superior Township.

Several commissioners expressed concern that the county is essentially in the same position as it was when this process began. Wes Prater objected to the fact that the county’s procurement policy wasn’t being followed, because a request for proposals (RFP) wasn’t issued.  Ultimately, a sufficient number of commissioners agreed to back the resolution, giving it final approval. The contract itself will not require authorization by the board.

In another move related to animal control services, the board gave final approval to a civil infractions ordinance, giving the county more flexibility to designate violations of other county ordinances as a civil infraction, rather than a criminal misdemeanor. [.pdf of proposed ordinance] In the context of animal control, enforcement of the county’s dog licensing ordinance is low because the current penalty – a criminal misdemeanor of 90 days in jail or a $500 fine – is relatively harsh. The idea is that enforcement would improve if a lesser civil infraction could be used.

Commissioners also debated options for changing their own compensation, ultimately giving initial approval to boost their base salaries from $15,500 to $15,750 annually and replacing per diem payments with stipends, effective Jan. 1, 2013. An amendment by Yousef Rabhi also increased the pay for chairs of the ways & means committee and the working session – bringing them to the same level as the board chair, at $3,000 more annually than the base salary of other commissioners. Voting against the changes as amended were Dan Smith and Rolland Sizemore Jr. A final vote is expected at the board’s Dec. 5 meeting, when a final vote on the overall 2013 budget will also occur.

In non-budget items, Dan Smith brought forward a resolution to rescind the board’s previous support for a regional transit authority (RTA) that’s being proposed in Lansing. The RTA would include the city of Detroit and the counties of Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb. Conan Smith has been an advocate for that effort, both as chair of the county board and in his role as executive director of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance. During deliberations on the item, some commissioners criticized Conan Smith for acting on behalf of the board and not keeping them fully informed. Wes Prater felt Conan Smith’s actions reflected disrespect for other commissioners – but Smith said he meant no disrespect.

A sense of disrespect was also felt by a resident who attended the Nov. 7 meeting to advocate for the county’s help in establishing a daytime warming center for the homeless. Alexandra Hoffman chastised the board because no commissioner responded to commentary about a warming center, and instead the remarks by advocates for the center had been followed by “disturbingly lighthearted talk about haircuts.”

Hoffman was referring to an announcement earlier in the meeting by Yousef Rabhi, whose hair is longer than any other commissioner, male or female. He hopes to get donations of $500 for every inch he cuts, to raise money for three local nonprofits: Shelter Association of Washtenaw County, Interfaith Hospitality Network, and SafeHouse Center. Rabhi told Hoffman that he was simply trying to raise awareness and money for the same issues that the warming center advocates supported.

The meeting fell the day after the Nov. 6 general election, which had resulted in the defeat of two of the nine commissioners who were running for re-election: Republican Rob Turner and Democrat Wes Prater. In District 1, Turner was outpolled by Democrat Kent Martinez-Kratz, decreasing the number of Republicans on the future nine-member board from three to two. Republican Alicia Ping won the District 3 seat over Prater – as the two incumbents faced each other due to redistricting that took effect with this election cycle. The last meeting for Turner and Prater – as well as for Democrats Leah Gunn and Barbara Bergman, who did not seek re-election – will be on Dec. 5.

It’s likely that the new board, which takes office in January, will eventually deal with a controversial topic that was raised during an appointments caucus on Nov. 7: Possible consolidation of the Washtenaw County road commission with county operations. During the caucus, held immediately prior to the regular meeting, Conan Smith suggested not yet reappointing the one road commissioner, Doug Fuller, whose term is expiring – though Fuller will continue to serve. Smith wanted to give the new county board some flexibility in discussing the future of the road commission. Some of the other issues emerging during the appointments caucus related to the role of the county’s historic district commission, economic development corporation, and the criminal justice community collaborative. [Full Story]

County Commissioners to Raise Own Pay

Washtenaw County commissioners debated options for changing their compensation, ultimately giving initial approval to boost their base salaries from $15,500 to $15,750 annually and replacing per diem payments with stipends, effective Jan. 1, 2013. The 8-2 vote took place during the board’s Nov. 7, 2012 meeting. Voting against the increase were Dan Smith and Rolland Sizemore Jr. Ronnie Peterson was absent. A final vote is expected at the board’s Dec. 5 meeting.

On Nov. 5, two days before their meeting, board chair Conan Smith had emailed commissioners a draft proposal that he described as “a straw-man policy to poke at.” [.pdf of proposal emailed from Smith to the board] The basics of his proposal remained in place, though some amendments … [Full Story]

Compensation Change for County Board?

As part of their upcoming vote on the 2013 budget, Washtenaw County commissioners are considering possible changes to their own compensation. The issue will likely be addressed initially at the county board’s only meeting in November, one day after the Nov. 6 election.

Conan Smith, Washtenaw County board of commissioners, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Conan Smith, chair of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners, at the Oct. 17, 2012 board meeting. At an Oct. 18 working session, Smith indicated that he might bring forward a proposal to the board’s Nov. 7 meeting for changing commissioner compensation.

The topic was brought up at an Oct. 18 working session, which was attended by county clerk Larry Kestenbaum at the invitation of board chair Conan Smith. Kestenbaum’s office is responsible for administering the requests for per diem and mileage payments that commissioners make for attending certain meetings.

During that working session, Smith indicated there had been a number of recent conversations about commissioner compensation, and that he might bring to the Nov. 7 board meeting a proposal about possible changes.

No public discussion of this issue has taken place by the board of commissioners since the spring, when Dan Smith brought forward a proposal in March to cut commissioner compensation and benefits for 2013 and 2014 – by 5.7%. His intent was for the board to vote on a change before the May 15 filing deadline for county board candidates, so that candidates would have a clear understanding of their compensation before entering the race. His proposal gained no traction among other commissioners at the time.

Based on comments by Conan Smith at the Oct. 18 working session, he’s exploring the idea of replacing the current per diem system – which requires that commissioners submit a request for payment – and instead paying commissioners an automatic stipend as part of their compensation. Per diems came under fire during the 2010 election season, and resulted in repayment – by most commissioners who were on the board at that time – of a portion of their per diem requests that were determined to be ineligible under board rules.

The determination had come from an independent review conducted at the direction of the county administrator. In gathering background on this topic, The Chronicle learned that Conan Smith and Kestenbaum later struck an agreement under which Smith agreed to repay some of the money he had been deemed ineligible to claim, in an arrangement that appears to have taken place outside the independent review process.

When asked by Conan Smith at the Oct. 18 working session for his opinion on the issue of stipends, Kestenbaum was supportive of the change to stipends, describing the current system as a lot of bookkeeping for a small amount of money. He also observed that the approach of having stipends would eliminate the kind of political vulnerability that commissioners have experienced. [Full Story]

County Acts on Budget, Health, Policy Issues

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (March 7, 2012): Although the county board isn’t yet in the heart of discussions for its next two-year budget cycle, the specter of that effort provided a backdrop to action at Wednesday’s meeting. The county faces projected deficits of $11.6 million in 2014 and $14.7 million in 2015.

Jenna Bacolor, Michaelle Rehmann, Al Connor

From left: Jenna Bacolor of the county's public health department, Michaelle Rehmann, Farm to Table director for the Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP), and Al Connor of the Michigan Farmers Union. All are involved in helping create the Washtenaw Food Policy Council. (Photos by the writer.)

Two items touched directly on salary and compensation. The board gave final approval to an administrative restructuring that’s estimated to save $326,422 annually, and result in the net reduction of four full-time jobs, which are currently vacant. As he did for the initial vote on Feb. 15, commissioner Ronnie Peterson voted against the restructuring, objecting to a 4% increase that will be given to four top managers in a new cross-lateral team, as a result of their job reclassification. Though the county uniformly gives a 4% raise when any job is reclassified, Peterson argued that the county’s leadership should set an example and that the raises will make it more difficult to ask for concessions in future union negotiations in 2014-15.

Also related to upcoming budgets, commissioner Dan Smith presented a draft proposal that would cut compensation for commissioners in 2013-2014. Overall, the proposal would cut total compensation (salary and benefits) by 5.7% per commissioner – from the current $20,213 to a proposed $19,063. He plans to present a formal resolution at the April 4 meeting. The timing would allow the board to make a decision before the May 15 filing deadline for county board candidates.

Another budget-related item came from the public health department, which proposed fee increases to treat sexually transmitted diseases – one of the mandated services provided by the county. The changes, which were approved unanimously, are being made in response to federal funding cuts and an increase in charges for state services. Though he voted in favor of the increases, Peterson raised concerns about the impact on low-income residents. Dick Fleece, director of the public health department, assured the board that no one would be refused treatment because of the inability to pay.

Public health staff also presented an item with almost no budget impact: A proposal to create the Washtenaw Food Policy Council, with the goal of supporting and coordinating activities in the county’s food system. Partners who’ve been working on this initiative include the Y of Ann Arbor, Growing Hope, Food Gatherers, the Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP), Slow Food Huron Valley, Eat Local/Eat Natural, Michigan Farmers Union, and the Ypsilanti Food Coop. A final vote is expected on March 21.

The board also acted on items related to public safety. They voted to accept a $177,500 state grant from the state’s Economic Vitality Incentive program (EVIP), which provides incentives for local governments to collaborate and combine operations. The grant will help pay for work related to dispatch consolidation between the county sheriff’s office and the city of Ann Arbor.

And in a vote to clear up a procedural move, the board authorized a merger of its countywide 800 megahertz (MHz) emergency communications system with the Michigan Public Safety Communication System. The county’s 800 MHz system is paid for through a 10-year, 0.20-mill tax that Washtenaw County voters approved in May 2006. At the time, the plan called for eventually merging with the statewide system.

During the opportunity for commissioners to raise items of discussion, Wes Prater noted that at the Ann Arbor city council’s March 5 meeting, a four-party agreement to establish a framework for a possible countywide transit system was approved. Prater urged the board to begin discussing the issue, too. [In addition to Ann Arbor, the four parties include the city of Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority. Ann Arbor city council was the first entity to approve the accord, doing so after postponing action on it three times and deliberating for over 3.5 hours at Monday's meeting. See Chronicle coverage: "Ann Arbor Council OKs Transit Agreement"]

A working session for commissioners to address the four-party agreement has been set for Thursday, March 22.

Prater also wondered why the board hadn’t received any reports from the county treasurer recently. The treasurer, Catherine McClary, gave a 2010 annual treasurer’s report to commissioners early last year, at their Feb. 16, 2011 meeting, but has not yet submitted the 2011 annual report. Board chair Conan Smith asked county administrator Verna McDaniel to contact the treasurer’s office and request a report. [Full Story]

Proposal Floated to Cut County Board Pay

A draft proposal that would cut compensation and benefits for Washtenaw County commissioners for the two-year 2013-2014 budget cycle was distributed by commissioner Dan Smith (R-District 2) at the county board’s March 7, 2012 meeting.

Currently, commissioners are paid an annual base salary of $15,500 plus $1,163 (7.5% of their salary) that the county contributes to their pension. [Officers of the board receive higher salaries: $18,500 for the board chair (Conan Smith), $16,000 for the board vice chair (Alicia Ping), $16,500 for the Ways & Means Committee chair (Rolland Sizemore Jr.) and the working session chair (Yousef Rabhi).] In addition, each commissioner has a $3,550 “flex” account, which they can tap for mileage and per diem. [.pdf of 2011 flex ... [Full Story]

AATA Board Gives CEO Praise, Raise

At its Dec. 15, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board voted to award its CEO, Michael Ford, an increase in base salary of $4,800 to $164,800 annually. The board also authorized a $10,000 lump-sum payment into a 457 deferred compensation plan, and vesting in the AATA employee pension plan effective Oct. 1, 2011.

Last year, Ford’s contract, which is renewable each year on October 1, paid Ford $160,000 a year. Ford did not receive a raise last year, but was given a one-time additional payment equal to 4% of his annual salary .

At the board’s May 19, 2011 meeting, the AATA board had approved a new employment contract with Ford, who was hired in the summer of 2009. [For a ... [Full Story]

UM Regents Extend President’s Contract

University of Michigan board of regents meeting (Nov. 18, 2010): UM president Mary Sue Coleman got a vote of confidence this month, as regents voted unanimously to extend her employment agreement by two years, and added an extra $100,000 annually in deferred compensation payments.

Julia Darlow, Mary Sue Coleman

University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman, seated, talks with Julia Darlow, chair of the UM board of regents, prior to the start of the Nov. 18 regents meeting on the UM Flint campus. (Photos by the writer.)

During their monthly meeting, held on the UM Flint campus, regents also approved a request to the state for a 2.6% increase in appropriations to the university for fiscal year 2012 – though regent Andrea Fischer Newman expressed concern that the request was too low. For the current fiscal year, state appropriations of $316 million represented a 2.8% decrease over fiscal 2010.

Regents got an annual report from the head of the faculty governance group, who proposed an idea to increase the ranks of faculty through a program that would tap retirees. The board also approved several facilities projects, including the purchase of three residential properties in Ann Arbor – two on South Division, next to the Institute for Social Research, and one on Wall Street, near the UM Kellogg Eye Center.

A request to approve a fireworks display at Michigan Stadium during the Dec. 11 “Big Chill at the Big House” generated some discussion, including a query from regent Libby Maynard about whether it would be dark enough to appreciate the display. The sold-out matchup between Michigan and Michigan State, expected to set an attendance record for outdoor hockey games, begins at 3 p.m.

Maynard’s question prompted regent Kathy White to quip: “Unfortunately, it’ll be December in Michigan – it’ll be dark.” [Full Story]

AATA Extends Countywide Planning Time

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (Nov. 18, 2010): Starting things off on Thursday – an hour earlier than the board’s usual 6:30 p.m. start time – was an update from the consultant and AATA staff who are leading the community in developing a countywide transportation master plan (TMP).


Board members Jesse Bernstein and Sue McCormick confer before the start of the Nov. 18 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

The steps outlined for developing the TMP include a chronology for identifying the following: a shared community vision; a transit needs assessment; transit options; a set of scenarios. The consulting team is in the midst of a phase that identifies a range of various options. The creation of various scenarios – combinations of different transit options – will constitute the final phase of work before production of the TMP in mid-April 2011.

That projected completion date reflects an extension of the original timeframe, which was originally set to conclude in late February. The extra time will allow for an additional step in the process – a step that will allow the consultant to present a set of scenarios without specifying any one of them as the recommended scenario.

To allow for the extra time, later in the evening the board approved a resolution increasing the $399,805 contract with Steer Davies Gleeve – the consultant AATA hired to help with the work – by an amount not to exceed $32,500.

In other business, the board discussed, but did not approve, a new janitorial contract for Blake Transit Center, which specified a different vendor from the current one. The new vendor’s bid came in at a cost a bit more than half of what had been budgeted for the year: $72,000 compared to the budgeted $126,069. Concerns by board members about how the cost savings were being achieved were serious enough that they chose, on a split vote, to table the issue.

In a move that did not authorize any current expenditure, the board adopted a compensation philosophy over which there was some brief but firm debate. Board member David Nacht weighed in against the idea of a public entity creating such a document – they’re only used to justify increases in payment but never decreases, he said. Expressing the view of the majority, however, was board member Sue McCormick, who stressed the importance of a public entity making a clear and transparent statement of how salaries are set.

The board entertained its usual range of committee reports and remarks from the public. [Full Story]