Morenci council hires code and zoning administrator 2015.02.25

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci city council members vote Monday to hire a code and zoning administrator, a job that’s currently filled by city administrator/clerk Michael Sessions.

Sessions and police chief Michael Creswell interviewed three candidates and recommended Benjamin Oram for the position. Council voted 6-1 to hire the rural Clayton resident, with Ron Apger opposing the motion.

Sessions said that accessibility was a key factor in choosing a new administrator, along with knowledge of construction and property maintenance plus prior enforcement experience.

Oram has served as a Lenawee County Sheriff's Department deputy for 26 years and has done construction work. He is expected to spend about 20 hours a month either in city hall or in the field.

Sessions will train Oram and intends for him to become certified as a zoning administrator. Sessions would also like him to take classes in rental housing inspection and property maintenance. Certification is not required, but Sessions believes it will be helpful in performing the duties of the position.

Oram will be paid $12.50 an hour and also receive 80 percent of rental registration and inspection fees.

Council member Brenda Spiess asked if a contract would be signed since the City intends to invest in Oram's training. Sessions said there was no mention of that in this hiring, but it's something council might want to add to the employee handbook. He thinks that approach would be preferable to applying requirements to specific employees.

Apger said in council's committee-of-the-whole meeting that he is opposed to hiring someone without experience in the job and he favored a different candidate. Apger wanted the interviews to be done again, but this time with at least one council member present.

Sessions said that accessibility is a key factor and Oram came through as the best for that quality. He also noted Oram's many years experience in law enforcement.

APPOINTMENTS—Denise Walsh was appointed to the city's board of review, joining Chris Merillat, ••• and •••. Her term runs through 2017. Robb Sweet was appointed to the planning commission through 2018.

LICENSE—Sessions was surprised when he opened a letter from a state office and learned that Big Jeff's Pizza was involved in the transfer of a liquor license from somewhere else in the county.

A change in state law now allows transfers to occur automatically without the need for approval by the local government unit. A new license still needs approval.

Spiess said she would like Sessions to find out if council is allowed to add wording to the local ordinance to require the review of a liquor license.

MADISON—Council approved a memorandum of understanding with Madison Township to make formal the recent practice of assisting the Morenci Police Department with some administrative chores. The township office has helped Morenci catch up with merging police reports into the state's information tracking system—a time-consuming chore required by the state.

In the past Morenci has hired an assistant to handle the work, but Sessions said that Madison can handle the work more cheaply than hiring a new employee.

If the department doesn't comply, said Morenci's part-time chief, the department won't be eligible for state grants.