Morenci city council 2013.06.12

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci city council members worked through a variety of personnel issues during the June 10 meeting, including a resignation and a change in policy.

Council voted to accept the resignation of DPW worker Barry Stover who accepted a position at a local industry. His final day on the job is Friday.

This should clear the way for Eric Emmons to remain with the DPW, said city supervisor Barney Vanderpool. Emmons was to be laid off June 30 due to a reduction in the city revenue for the next fiscal year.

Council heard the first reading of a proposed change to the employee handbook. Mayor Keith Pennington would like council to vote on the issue at the June 24 meeting.

The recommendation is for the city to change from a “just cause” employer to an “at will” employer. This would remove the progressive discipline steps for nonunion workers and instead allow the city to fire an employee at will.

Morenci is one of the only communities in the region that still uses just cause, said city administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder.

“As a salaried employee,” said library director Colleen Leddy, “it feels like an unfriendly relationship.”

Pennington asked why salaried employees should be given an extra layer of protection that other employees don’t have.

“I don’t see a benefit to the city,” Pennington added. “I think it’s more of a benefit to the city to be an at-will employer.”

The city’s attorney and liability insurer both advise moving in that direction, Schroeder said.

The contracts that department heads sign are in conflict with the employee handbook, Pennington said, and he would like them to mesh. He wondered if contracts are even needed.

Councilor Tracy Schell said that some sort of contract or agreement is good to have for department heads, although she doesn’t think it needs to be renewed annually.

An agreement for each position would allow the city to better negotiate with a prospective employee, she said. For example, someone might be willing to work for less pay along with more vacation time. She stated that an initial agreement when an employee is first hired is important to have.

Pennington favored separate job descriptions without the use of contracts.

Council member Brenda Spiess sees no value in contracts. Any minor changes  should be handled by human resources department, she said, which is the city administrator.

A motion to continue using an agreement in addition to the employee handbook failed on a 3-4 vote. A second motion stated that all non-union employees will be governed by the employee handbook, with any negotiated exceptions tracked in a personnel file by the administrator. That passed by a 5-2 vote, with Schell and Robert Jennings voting against the motion.

ADMINISTRATOR—Councilor Jeff Bell announced that three additional interviews are scheduled for the city administrator/clerk position.

FIRE DEPARTMENT—Cody Thompson was approved to re-join the fire department.

  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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