Morenci city council 2014.01.29

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci is in need a new city council member following the resignation of Everett Cool on Monday night.

Cool explained during a committee meeting Monday that he learned in December that his job as a truck driver would be eliminated in March and he began searching for a new job. He found a new position that will allow him to support his family, but the schedule would not allow him to serve as an effective member of council.

"This greatly upsets me," he said, "I don't like to start something and not finish it. This meant a lot for me to be here."

In his letter of resignation, Cool apologized to those who elected him in November.

Anyone interested in serving on city council should submit a letter of interest at city hall by Feb. 10.

POLICE CHIEF—Council voted unanimously Monday to change the status of interim sergeant Ryan Hillard to interim chief. During the committee discussion, council member Cool and mayor Bill Foster both stated that they thought the vote in November was to make Hillard the police chief, but councilor Brenda Spiess said her motion was to name him interim sergeant.

Spiess said she didn't know at the time that the rank of sergeant was no longer part of the city's handbook and she apologized to Hillard for making his work more difficult. The title of sergeant has caused problems among union members and has placed Hillard in a position that makes it difficult to manage the department, Spiess said.

"This gives clarity to what he's doing," Mayor Foster added.

Council's public safety committee will review the job description of the police chief before seeking résumés for a permanent chief. 

Council member Ron Apger told the committee members that Hillard could not serve as the permanent chief because he isn't qualified, based on the city's list of qualifications. City administrator Michael Sessions responded by saying those should be considered desirable qualifications.

"It doesn't mean those are the minimum qualifications and it doesn't mean they are mandatory," he said. 

Council discussed having candidates reviewed by a county police chief's association. Hillard said that Lenawee's group should not be used because he is friends with the members.

LAY PROPERTY—In a committee discussion, council members were still uncertain about what direction to take with the possible purchase of the Lay Trust property for additional industrial park land. In order to finance the purchase, councilors discussed the possible sale of the industrial park land located in Ohio.

The property could be first offered to the owner of the property on three sides of the city's parcel. If an acceptable price were not obtained, sealed bids could be collected for the sale of the farmland.

LAND—Council voted to choose Gil Henry and Associates real estate firm to market the vacant industrial park land, except the Ohio property.

INSPECTIONS—Council's Finance and Legal committee had instructed Sessions to speak with building inspector Kevin Arquette about ending the retainer fee paid to him. Arquette was opposed to the change and resigned from the position.

Council voted Monday to contract with Hillsdale County's inspection services, as the City of Hudson does, and adopt its rate structure. There will be no retainer paid, but the inspectors will keep 100 percent of the inspection fees. The new rates include a $50 administrative fee to cover the City’s costs. 

The Hillsdale County Commissioners need to approve the contract, Sessions said, but already gave approval to proceed.