Local government ROUNDUP

Recent actions by local governments in Northeast Michigan:

∫ The Alcona County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved a union contract for its secretaries and custodians, who will receive a 2-percent raise over a three-year period, beginning with the current pay period. Board Chairman Craig Johnston said the contract impacts about nine of the county’s employees.

The board also heard from Commissioner Dan Gauthier, who asked the board to schedule a meeting to review the county’s budget during its workshop. Gauthier expressed his concerns that there are expenses coming forward that the board didn’t think of or estimate back in November.

“Honestly, I just don’t think the five of us have the faintest idea about our budgets anymore,” he said.

He told commissioners he would also like to see them implement a policy regarding the county’s budget procedures, as recommended to them by the auditor.

Commissioner Carolyn Brummund said the board has an existing policy and procedures plan but that it needs to be updated because the board has changed how things are done.

Commissioners agreed to have a budget meeting, which has yet to be scheduled, in March.

Additionally, the board heard from Deputy Clerk Lori Achtabowski during its workshop. She told the board there is $28,763 in unclaimed retirement benefits that it plans to put toward its long-term debts to retirees.

∫ The Village of Lincoln on Monday voted 5-0 to pay Brett Wambold, who serves as a trustee on the board, $9.50 an hour while he is serving as interim maintenance personnel. Village Clerk Linda Somers said Wambold worked in excess of 100 hours, so they have to do something for him. Somers said he put in overtime because of the weather.

Wambold did not cast a vote, as he asked the trustees for permission to abstain from the vote because of the conflict of interest.

∫ The Presque Isle County Board of Commissioners voted to uphold the denial of a request through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act during its Jan. 25 meeting. Allis Township resident Wayne Vermilya, a former commissioner, on Jan. 1 submitted a FOIA request asking the county commissioners to disclose their 2017 tax returns. Vermilya said the information requested “was in the interest of the general public.”

Tax returns are exempt from disclosure under both the state and federal public records laws.

County Clerk Ann Marie Main reviewed the request, with input from the board’s legal counsel, Joe Kwiatkowski. However, Vermilya’s request was denied.

Vermilya appealed the denial to the Board of Commissioners in a letter dated Jan. 10.

“I believe that this matter deserves serious consideration and that, in the interest of transparency, we can resolve this matter without filing a formal action in circuit court,” he wrote in the appeal.

The board voted unanimously to uphold the denial. Vermilya’s only recourse now is to attempt to sue for the records.