Village Manager contract amendment up for vote next week

Becky Vargo • Feb 14, 2017 at 11:00 AM

SPRING LAKE — A proposal to modify the village manager’s contract will be on the agenda during an open session when Spring Lake Village Council meets Monday, Feb. 20, at Barber School.

The modification to Village Manager Chris Burns’ contract would only come into effect if the village disincorporates.

“This is a safety net for me,” Burns said. “I don’t believe it will ever come to fruition.”

During a work session Monday night, Council President Joyce Hatton said the hearing should be in closed session, and pushed council members to read an opinion created by her personal attorney.

But Village Council members put down their own gavels, objecting to the president’s introduction of that opinion. They also objected to paying for an attorney that Burns said was invited to speak to council by Hatton, and not at council’s request.

President Pro-Tem Mark Powers made a statement against board members going out on their own to get opinions.

“I am very strongly against any member of this board going out and hiring somebody and expecting the board to pay for this,” he said. “... This is not about punishing Joyce Hatton. This is about controlling the purse strings.”

Hatton said she didn’t know what she was supposed to do since “following the law is not something that seems to affect you,” she said to the rest of council.

Hatton said she was talking about rules and procedures, but Councilman Joel Tepastte pointedly asked her to stop pushing her agenda at people, that council members understand what they are supposed to do and that they each have an opinion.

Tepastte also emphasized that the village attorney has produced an opinion and that Hatton’s private attorney’s opinion was noted, and they didn’t need to keep rehashing it.

Hatton said she only has Burns’ best interests in mind. But Burns said she is prepared to move ahead and deal with whatever decisions are made.

Tepastte proposed amending Burns’ contract — in case of village disincorporation — stating that she gets 12 months salary, plus benefits. This will be presented at council’s meeting next week, and open to discussion prior to a vote.

Burns told council that the Disincorporation Work Group met last week and will have several recommendations to present to council next week.

Hatton ran for village president last fall with an agenda of disbanding the village and making it part of Spring Lake Township.


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