Bunting opposes pay raise for county administrator, but she gets one anyway

By Ralph Echtinaw

County commissioners voted 3-1 last week to give County Administrator Tracey Cordes a 4.5 percent raise.

Cordes begins the second year of a three-year contract Nov. 1. Her base pay goes from $93,500 to $97,708. She also gets $5,000 a year for a retirement fund of her choice.

She told the commission via memo that her pay is in line with that of chief administrators in similar counties. ($114,355 in Montcalm County, $116,896 in Newaygo County and $104,834 in Mecosta County).

Cordes left the room while commissioners discussed the possibility of raising her pay. “I will leave it to you to do a

reasonable business calculation and to do what you think is fair,” she wrote in her memo.

Jan Bunting was the sole commissioner to oppose the pay increase. Her beef is that Cordes makes more money than Sheriff Mike Morris ($86,815), who is on call 24 hours a day seven days a week. “I feel very bad about the sheriff,” she said. “I know that he is out late at night. There’s a lot of stuff going on.”

“To your point, Jan. I just don’t think you can compare the the administrator job and the sheriff’s job,” Lemmermann said.

Cordes the comedian

Early in the Oct. 18 meeting, long before her salary was discussed, Cordes asked commissioners to check their office mail slots once in a while. “When you come in you might want to occasionally check your mailbox in the admin office,” she said. “Nothing too interesting there. Anything of value, certainly anything with money in it, I’ve already taken. That was a joke.”

Postage machine

Commissioners approved a five-year contract with Pitney Bowes to lease a letter-handling machine. Cost to the county will be $277.92 per month.

That’s an increase from what the county was paying Quadient ($203 a month) for a machine that is plagued with frequent jams and does not flag overweight letters. Furthermore, Quadient does not make house calls when its machines break.

The county could have stuck with Quadient, but only for $610.45/month.

Basement cleanup

Commissioners approved the hiring of Brad’s Cleaners of

Greenville ($10,857) to clean a basement file room in the county’s Ithaca headquarters. 

The room is in need of a three-step clean-up process that stems from a water leak earlier in the year, according to Procurement Officer Kalin Lombard. “We worked to find a business that could offer flooring removal and disposal, cleaning, and disinfecting of two file rooms and one hallway,” Lombard wrote in a memo.

Farewell Kalın Lombard

The procurement officer’s last day on the job was Oct. 19, and Cordes spoke highly of her at the commission meeting: “This is a huge loss for us,” she said. “Kalin started I don’t know how long ago, and I came to this board and reported that in the first month she had pretty much paid her salary for the entire year in her review of contracts and other work.

“We knew we needed someone doing that body of work, and she has just been such an asset, so talented. Her job grew over time” to include financial assistance at the Commission on Aging, property management and grants management.  

“Bon voyage to Kalin, and we’re cursing Central Michigan University a little bit (Lombard’s new employer),” Cordes said. “Our losses is their gain, and we can feel proud that we have such talented people go to other employers and they know that they came from Gratiot County.”

Snow removal

Commissioners re-upped with Lawnscape of Sumner to plow snow in various county parking lots in the coming winter. They had no choice, actually, as Lawnscape was the sole bidder.

However, Lawnscape’s prices have gone up. Here are the old prices and the new prices:

Jail parking lot: $80 to $110 per cleaning.

Courthouse handicap lot: $40 to $60 per cleaning.

Animal shelter: $40 to $60 per cleaning.

Health Department: $75 to $100 per cleaning.

Church lot: $45 to $65 per cleaning.

Fair for Youth problems

The Gratiot County Fair for Youth left Veterans Affairs personnel less than impressed, as the location provided for an information booth was not ideal. 

“On Saturday from 1-3 p.m. there was only one person to come through,” according to Veterans Affairs meeting minutes of Oct. 12. “Member Ken Davis stated to have the fair committee board guarantee a better spot for next year or not go. Member Gary Hoffer and Ken Davis both know someone on the board and will mention this change and the importance of location.”

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