Over the past two months, more than a half dozen people holding key positions in Washtenaw County government have left or announced plans to leave their jobs, for a variety of reasons. Most notably, the county’s deputy administrator, Bill Reynolds – who’s been on medical leave since April – has turned in his resignation, effective June 17.
Two other departures were announced at the June 1 board of commissioners meeting and June 2 working session: Joanna Bidlack, who has served as support staff for the board for several years; and Anya Dale, with the county’s economic development and energy department, who has been taking the lead in a Washtenaw Avenue corridor improvement project.
Dale has accepted a job at the University of Michigan’s Office of Campus Sustainability. She also serves as a board member of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) – that position is appointed by the city of Ann Arbor’s mayor, and Dale says she plans to remain on the AATA board. Bidlack, who recently completed a master’s degree at Eastern Michigan University, has taken a job at General Electric’s operation in Van Buren Township.
Reynolds, who was hired as the county’s No. 2 administrator a year ago, began paid medical leave in early April, citing post-military issues. [He was hired at a salary of $138,000.] On Tuesday, county administrator Verna McDaniel told The Chronicle that Reynolds turned in his resignation in late May, effective June 17. He has been interviewing for county administrator jobs elsewhere, and had been one of three finalists for the county administrator job in St. Croix County, Wisc. When The Chronicle has pressed for additional details about Reynolds’ leave of absence, county officials have characterized it as a personnel matter and declined further comment.
The staff changes come a year after the May 2010 retirement of county administrator Bob Guenzel, who had worked for the county for 37 years. Now under the leadership of McDaniel – herself a long-time county employee – the county is also addressing a roughly $17 million deficit for 2012 and 2013, and is undertaking some departmental reorganizations in part as a response to declining property tax revenues. The county employs 1,331 people, including elected officials and 1,090 employees who are represented by unions.
In interviews this week with The Chronicle, both McDaniel and Conan Smith – chair of the board of commissioners – said this kind of turnover has been anticipated, in light of the county’s financial situation and the overall economy. There’s an understanding among employees that the workforce will be shrinking, Smith said, and that if someone finds an opportunity elsewhere, they’re taking it.
McDaniel said there is no mass exodus of employees, but acknowledged that there will be additional departures – including retirements – before the end of the year. She’s developing recommendations regarding her administrative team, in light of the recent departures, and plans to update the board at their Thursday, June 16 working session.