In a special meeting May 4, the Southwest Barry County Sewer and Water Authority board opened the meeting, and went into an hour and a half closed session with Attorney Scott Dwyer from Mika, Meyers.
They came back into open session and voted 4-1 to eliminate the administrator and project manager positions, thus ending Administrator Mark Doster’s employment with the authority.
The motion to terminate Doster also made Plant Manager Scott Monroe interim general manager for the time being. The board will look at a salary adjustment for a general manager, and also negotiate a separation package with Doster.
The action comes after months of questions about Doster’s pay, hours worked and accessibility to the public. Barry County Commissioner David Jackson has brought up Doster’s pay at several board meetings, charging he was being paid full-time wages for a part-time job.
A shaken Doster asked for a few minutes to think before making a comment on his dismissal.
David Messelink, chairman; Barbara Earl, representing Johnstown Township; Wes Kahler, from Barry Township, and Matt Peake, Hope Township, voted to terminate Doster. Jim Stoneburner, Prairieville Township, voted “no.”
In his response, Doster traced his involvement in the sewer serving Southwest Barry County from when, as a Barry County Commissioner in the early 1990s, he voted to approve funding for the system, to as Prairieville Township Supervisor, he served on the authority board, and became its chairman.
Doster said the system was then facing severe financial trouble and lawsuits, which he helped resolve by refinancing a large debt, saving the authority money and raising the user rates to finish paying the debt. He became administer of the authority in 2005.
The authority has avoided raising rates since by expanding the service to Long, Gilkey and Guernsey lakes, Delton, Cloverdale and other areas, he said. “All were extraordinarily successful.”
He praised authority employees, saying they worked well together, and the 2,200 to 2,300 people on the system who helped solve the problems.
“We’ve had 12 years of extraordinary success ,we’re in fine financial position. I always had a policy of treating everyone fairly, everyone like a human being. I’m extremely proud of what I’ve done here.”
In other business, the board increased the authority office hours immediately to 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The board is considering a fingerprint system as a “time clock,” and security camera system for both the plant and office, and will act on that at its regular board meeting May 23 meeting. //
Messelink later issued the following statement:
“Tonight we turned the page and tomorrow we begin writing a new chapter in the history of the Southwest Barry County Sewer & Water Authority. The board, after reviewing the Authority’s operations, finances, structures, and needs, has decided to go in a different direction by eliminating the Administrator & Project Manager positions and creating, at least on a temporary basis, the position of General Manager.
Scott Monroe, the current plant manager, has been appointed to be the general manager on an interim basis and will serve in that capacity until further notice. The board will decide the exact direction and implementation in the coming months.
“The board and all employees of the authority remain fully dedicated to providing the best service and support possible to our customers. We are excited about the opportunities ahead to better serve our community.”