Hour reduction mishandled
The Arenac County Board of Commissioners has done a pretty good job in recent years collaborating with county Treasurer Dennis Stawowy and department heads to come up with a fair budget. The county was more than $40,000 under budget at the end of last year, and more revenue is scheduled to be received, which is projected to bring the overall revenue rollover to about $350,000.
With this mindful budgeting, many county employees — union employees, elected officials and department heads — were able to get raises for 2017. One of those employees was board Secretary Gail Seder, whose hourly wage was increased. However, during its first January meeting, while Seder was off for medical leave, the county did an about-face and reduced her hours to part-time without even notifying her. Seder, a 16-year county employee, discovered the change when she was contacted by the Independent about the hour reduction two days after it was passed.
Talk about adding insult to injury.
Changing the position to part-time had been discussed in December, but ultimately the board decided not to go through with it. Seder was still a full-time employee when the 2017 budget and salary resolutions were passed.
Similar to how the county pays careful attention to its budget, individuals and families do too. This decision by the county will certainly upend Seder’s personal and family budget in the form of her paychecks and lost benefits, and it came with no warning. At least the county approved the change going into effect in February and not immediately, so she will have a little bit of time to plan for it.
One of the reasons the county approved salary increases was to attract and retain high-quality employees. We believe this issue could deter high-quality or highly skilled individuals from filling vacancies when they arise.
County residents want to deal with honest and competent people in taxpayer-funded positions, whether they are police officers, dispatchers, office staff or inspectors. If people believe the county could renege on a decision made just a month earlier, those positions are less likely to attract honesty and competency.
Let’s hope this is simply an example of poor judgment and does not become the norm in Arenac County.