Prosecutor rebukes BOC chair over wage remark

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

Antrim County's Board of Commissioners is pictured with the resolutions of appreciation given to outgoing commissioners Scott Kruger, Bryan Smith and Melissa Zelenak for their service on the board. Shown (back, from left): Commissioners Karen Bargy, Zelenak, Smith, Brenda Ricksgers, and Ed Boettcher, and (back, from left) Commissioners Dawn LaVanway, David Heeres, and Jason Helwig, who in November was appointed to replace Kruger, who resigned in October.

BELLAIRE – During a day-long monthly business meeting last week, Antrim County Prosecuting Attorney James Rossiter lashed out at Antrim County Commission Chair Ed Boettcher for making light of a serious subject.

"For you to jokingly say, ‘Well, I would have voted for more, too,’ I find despicable," Rossiter told Boettcher, referring to a joke Boettcher had made a few minutes prior in an attempt to lighten the atmosphere in the room.

Rossiter's remarks came after lengthy discussions, and two different closed sessions, regarding annual wage parity increases for elected officials as well as annual wage increases for several other county employees, including part-time and seasonal employees, without union representation.

The wage increases were approved four years ago as part of a study conducted by the Board of Commissioners at that time, with 2018 scheduled as the final year of the parity year.

Despite concerns voiced by several commissioners, including District 7 Commissioner Dawn LaVanway, regarding giving increases in pay without annual employee job performance evaluations, parity wage increases of 2.9 percent were approved for 2019.

Left on the table without full discussion or any type of action was a motion mandating that the county negotiate with elected officials in future wage increase discussions.

Boettcher faced more criticism during the meeting's first public comment period, when District 2 Commissioner Melissa Zelenak read a letter she had sent to Boettcher in response to an email telling her that he would not entertain a motion she wished to present during the meeting.

Apparently distressed over the length of time it sometimes takes for the Administrator's Office to send minutes of committee meetings to the board for their information regarding various matters, Zelenak had asked for a motion mandating that the Board would follow state law and have the County Clerk's office record all minutes of all county board committee meetings.

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