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Cargo gets contract extension

Alex Doty • Oct 10, 2017 at 8:00 AM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — A new four-year agreement has been put in place between Grand Haven Township and its manager, Bill Cargo.

The Township Board voted 5-1 Monday night to approve the extension of Cargo’s current contract.

Township Supervisor Mark Reenders voted against the agreement, while Trustee Ron Redick was absent.

With the extension, Cargo will receive a salary of $111,806 per year, and his performance will be evaluated at least annually during the term of the agreement, commencing in September 2018.

Cargo may be dismissed “for cause” at any time with no employment protections. Furthermore, he may be dismissed “without cause” at any time, subject to the protections afforded under a severance package.

The employment agreement was first discussed at a work session on Sept. 25, after being brought up by Treasurer Bill Kieft.

“I can’t justify letting him go based on his performance and his ratings,” Kieft said.

During the Sept. 25 work session, it was decided to hold off on any decisions until the board’s Oct. 9 meeting.

“There were a couple of conversations that needed to take place,” Township Human Resources Director Andrea Dumbrell said. “We were looking at the (compensation) last time, specifically the benefits provided.”

During the previous work session, Reenders expressed concern with the level of the 457 retirement plan contribution, which he believed should have been at the 8-9 percent level, as opposed to the 14 percent of Cargo’s annual salary in the approved contract.

During the September work session, Trustee Cal Meeusen noted that this was not a defined benefit program, rather a defined contribution program. Also, Dumbrell noted that her review of compensation indicated that the retirement benefit was considered low for an executive reporting to a board, as similar agreements provided the maximum retirement contribution allowed under the IRS rules.

Additionally, Cargo noted that he did not believe it prudent to “negotiate against himself” by agreeing to reduce a retirement benefit in response to a board member who would still vote against the employment agreement.

The delay also gave board members not at the September work session a chance to provide input. During Monday night’s meeting, other board members who weren’t at the work session had an opportunity to weigh in on the renewal.

“I have no problem with it,” said Trustee Dave Gignac.

Dumbrell also read a statement from the absent Redick. “Ron has shared with me that he supported an extension of the contract,” Dumbrell said.

While Dumbrell said Redick had concerns about the retirement contribution percentage, she said he noted it wasn’t enough to keep him from voting for the agreement had he been in attendance.

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