At the November 20, 2013 Board of Oakland Township meeting, the Board agreed to proceed with the selection process to fill the Superintendent vacancy created by Jim Creech’s departure. The responsibilities of the Superintendent will continue to be based on Ordinance 97. The vote was 5 to 1. Supervisor Gonser was the single dissenting vote. Supervisor Gonser had desired to eliminate the Superintendent position, have the Board authorize him to assume some of the Superintendent’s responsibilities, making him a “Strong Supervisor”. A Manager position would be created to pick up the remaining responsibilities.
The Board was considering a suggestion, previously made by Trustee Thalmann, to have Supervisor Gonser assume some of the responsibilities that our previous Superintendent, Jim Creech had based on Ordinance 97. That structure had been in effect since 2002. The Superintendent responsibilities, “A” through “O”, are called out in the Ordinance.
If this recommendation had been approved, the Superintendent position would be eliminated, a Manager Position would likely be created and Supervisor Gonser would have additional power in running the Township. Oakland Township would be under what is referred to as as “Strong Supervisor” Township.
Supervisor Gonser had invited the Supervisors from Orion, Addison and Independence Townships to the past two meetings to describe how their Townships operate under the “Strong Supervisor” structure. There were many questions asked of them by Board members and citizens.
Treasurer Langlois reviewed the responsibilities in Ordinance 97, and concluded that those responsibilities were all administrative, and did not see any reason to move to a “Strong Supervisor” structure. She stated that the selection process for a replacement for Jim Creech needs to proceed, and saw nothing wrong with the Superintendent position continuing to retain the responsibilities defined in Ordinance 97.
Here is her justification for her motion, and the vote by the Board:
Trustee Thalmann was not present at the meeting, and Supervisor Gonser made several attempts to have the vote deferred to some future meeting when she would be present. A number of citizens supported having the vote take place that evening. One of the reasons given for proceeding with the vote was that the Township had reviewed a number of resumes of candidates that had submitted applications for the Superintendent position. Proceeding with interviews, not knowing what the individual’s responsibilities would be was a major factor in making the decision now. There was a strong feeling that the position needed to be filled quickly.
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? By keeping the position of Superintendent, and selecting a qualified person, the Township will have a person that has the professional background to make a municipality run efficiently. It also provides a level of stability that is needed when Board member changes occur. The Board’s strength is retained by not having the Supervisor become too strong and possibly abuse his/her power. See the following post on recent actions by Supervisor Gonser.