The board rules covering county operations were approved by commissioners Tuesday on a split vote after rewording of one amendment. The organization rules cover commission meetings, officer elections, board successions, open meetings, quorums, rules of general conduct and procedures, reimbursement for expenditures, mileage, board committees and administration.
Commissioner Ben Geiger, commission chair, said there were no large changes to the rules this year, offering “small tweaks on the way we do business.”
Commissioner Vivian Conner objected to a proposal to allow the chair to postpone a commissioner’s committee of the whole agenda request for two committee meetings.
She said his request was too controlling, the issue of delaying an agenda item has never been a problem. “Things come up all the time…so why delay it?”
Geiger said it is his responsibility to set the agenda, with advice from Administrator Michael Brown, to space out items to prevent three-hour meetings and the change would give him more flexibility. Also, he said the chair has the ability to say no to an agenda request. “With this, the chair can only postpone it…I wouldn’t delay something that needed to be approved,” he said.
Commissioner Heather Wing said she tended to agree with Conner, that it was too restrictive for them, “that things do come up” and they needed flexibility “when time is of the essence,” to respond to grants, meeting deadlines, and, “things that need to be done this week.”
Commissioners Jon Smelker, Dan Parker and Howard “Hoot” Gibson had questions on the wording. Smelker asked how long the two committee of the whole meetings would delay an item and was told about a month. Commissioner David Jackson said if they changed the language, he could support it.
During a five minute break the language was changed to read:
Before: Any Commissioner may place an item on a future Committee of the Whole agenda.
After: Any Commissioner may place an item on a future Committee of the Whole agenda. The Chairperson may postpone such items for not more than two (2) Committee meetings, or until the last Committee meeting of the term, whichever is sooner. The Chairperson shall not postpone requests if postponement would result in failure to meet deadlines related to the request, or result in serious financial consequences for the county government. //
The vote for the amended rules was 5-2, with Conner and Gibson voting “no.” Gibson said in his 16 years on the commission delaying an item had never come up and he saw no reason to change it. “We are all commissioners. We’re peers,” Conner said. “I don’t know why you are doing this
The other changes to the rules are:
*Add “Report from State and County Officers” to the board agenda; remove “Legislative Update.”
*Clarify that special mileage reimbursements are allowed only if approved by the committee of the whole or board of commissioners or if the chair requests they represent the commission at an official meeting or event.
Also, the committee of the whole meetings are typically the first and third Tuesdays of the month and regular board meetings the second and fourth Tuesdays. Both are at 9 a.m. in the Mezzanine in the Barry County Courthouse. The Aug. 21 committee of the whole was moved to Aug. 22; the Dec. 25 regular board meeting was moved to the Dec. 16 committee of the whole meeting of at 4 p.m., and the March 27 regular board meeting was moved to March 26. The meetings were moved for a holiday or state events like Michigan Association of Counties meetings.
Geiger issued a statement later: "I’m pleased the board approved some common-sense tweaks to our bylaws. Today’s action ensures any commissioner can bring an issue to the board, while giving me flexibility to set the agenda in a smart, effective manner."
And, appointments of commissioners as liaison on 38 various committees, boards and authorities are made by the chair. This year’s list of appointments is the same as last year’s, Geiger said.
The first committee of the whole meeting in 2018 followed with one agenda item, a resolution approving a tentative two-year collective bargaining agreement with the Command Officers Association of Michigan/Barry County Sheriff’s Office Command Officers Unit.
Details were given by Brown: “Two percent wage increase in 2018, 2019 and 2020, plus differential increase for sergeants and sergeant detective (positions) in 2018 to 10 percent, in 2019 to 11 percent, and in 2020 to 12 percent above road deputy. and differential increase for lieutenant’s (position) in 2018 to 2.5 percent, 2019 to 3.5 percent, and 2020 to 4.5 percent above sergeant’s (position).”