BOC discusses $10,000 towing bill, MERS possibilities

Erich T. Doerr | Review Correspondent

The Clare County Board of Commissioners is looking at adding a new retirement option for its county employees. At its Wednesday meeting the board discussed adding the Municipal Employee’s Retirement System with MERS benefit plan advisor Mike Tackett.

Tackett spoke with the board about the supplemental retirement plan noting it would have no cost to the county. He said MERS is a non-profit organization and while there is a cost to participants the fees are almost half of what they are for the current plan.

“MERS is in a unique position to talk about both their retirement and supplemental plan needs,” Tackett said, noting the benefits of having those work together. “In a 457 the dollars go in pre-tax.”

Tackett continued to note the benefits of the program including that if adopted MERS does not require dropping the prior approach although some counties have exclusively gone to it. He said it can be used as a second option alongside the current one although if you have the other plan you cannot just roll your assets into MERS.

While two plans is possible Commissioner Jim Gelios said he thinks a single plan is the best direction to go in.

Tackett said to adopt the MERS program would require at least two resolutions, one to join the program and a second to take care of details. He added there can be possibly two more resolutions depending on if they want the option to attach loans to the program or have automatic enrollment. Clare County Administrator Tracy Byard says their current plan allows the loans but does not involve automatic enrollment.

The board decided to take no action on the issue until January when its new lineup takes over.  Further discussion is tentatively scheduled for its January 16 meeting.

Wednesday’s meeting also included a public hearing on an application for a Community Development Block Grant. If they receive the grant the money is to be used by Clare County Community Development to fund the demolition of three houses and Senior Services director Lori Ware again spoke to the board at the hearing about how the department is using its money .

The board had no protests regarding the issue but there was some discussion as to if they needed a motion or a resolution to show their support for the grant. They correctly decided to pass a resolution and a roll call vote followed with all seven members voting to approve it.

The board’s last major point of discussion was with Clare County Sheriff John Wilson and Lt. Ed Williams about a $10,000 bill the county recently received from Harrison’s Double T towing company. The bill stems from storage of an older Chevrolet pickup truck that was involved in a fatality traffic accident and is being held at the yard as evidence at the prosecutor’s request awaiting a trial.

“It didn’t take long to add up quick,” Williams said, noting legal actions rarely move up at a speed that is ideal for rental storage.

According to Byard while the towing yard has asked for $10,000 they were willing to cut a deal for $3,000. Wilson noted in the past the sheriff’s office typically only paid for bills related to the actual towing of the vehicles and never their storage. He also said they previously asked the wrecker company if they needed to remove the truck and were told it was fine to leave it by the company.

The board noted that typically in situations like this insurance covers the storage of the vehicle but there was some discussion the truck may have been uninsured. They said they would look into this situation further and get a better understanding from all involved.

No matter how the issue turns out it has resulted in change of sheriff’s office policy. According to Wilson the department no longer allows vehicles to be stored at tow yards for an extended period of time. He did add however the department itself does not have its own secure area on-site area for evidence such as the truck at this time.

Following the tow yard issue the board talked with Wilson and Williams about automatically offering Blue Cross insurance to whoever is the new hire for the undersheriff the position. The board voted and approved that request. A third discussion involving permission to scrap a sheriff’s office car out of service and stripped of all usable parts did not result in a decision either way at this time.