County votes Byard a raise

February 20, 2014

2-21-14 Tracy ByardBy Rosemary Horvath

In her fourth year as Clare County administrator, Tracy Byard begins earning the salary equal to that of her predecessors.

County commissioners on Wednesday fulfilled Byard’s request of a salary rise from $56,000 to $60,000.

Byard said she is “very happy. It brought me up to what past administrators were making in Clare County.”

Byard added the average salary for administrators employed by counties with similar state equalized valuations as Clare County averages $68,000.

In 2010 she earned $45,000 then assumed more administrative duties as the administrator/controller at the time eased into retirement. Byard’s salary increased to $55,000 in October 2010.

Also in 2010 Byard obtained a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Northwood University in Midland she financed herself.

As administrator, she prepares the county’s $12 million budget, reviews policies and procedures, submits grants, conducts union negotiations, handles insurances, and oversees day to day operations and several county departments.

She was administrative assistant for three county administrators in Clare County previously.

Commissioner Dale Majewski stalled action on her salary in January until Byard had a job performance review.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Majewski said last week board members turned in completed evaluation surveys to chairman Rick LaBoda who added up scores and reviewed comments.

Byard asked for an open session at the county board meeting Wednesday. Majewski said there was minimal discussion and that Byard received an average evaluation.

Majewski and Commissioner Jack Kleinhardt voted against the increase in a motion made by Commissioner Karen Lipovsky and seconded by Commissioner Leonard Strouse. The motion passed with support from LaBoda and Commissioner Jim Gelios. Commissioner Lynn Grim is away this winter.

Lipovsky said Wednesday Byard has done “a good job as administrator. She is well versed in budgets and insurances. At this point she should be brought up to what others made.”

Lipovsky said the county board supports a full-time administrator and turned down a proposal from Gladwin County to share the position. Lipovsky added that a previous administrator not only had a salary of $60,000 but the county provided him with a car. Byard does not have a county car.

Majewski’s vote was not based on dissatisfaction with Byard, he said. Instead he was uneasy granting the increase when similar requests from other department heads were denied. For example, Jerry Becker did not have his part-time position as emergency management director become fulltime.

As for aligning her salary with those of her predecessors, “those were different times and different boards. We are looking at a tight budget,” Majewski added.

Majewski now foresees others on the county payroll asking for increases “and why would we not listen to them?”

The county has operated on tight budgets for five years or more with minimal wage increases. This year commissioners had approved two percent wage hike across the board, including for the county administrator.

Majewski proposed giving Byard half the increase now and the other half next year based on a positive job review but his suggestion died.

Kleinhardt said in a phone interview his vote was “just financial for me. I didn’t pay attention to the evaluation. Tracy does a fine job.”

Kleinhardt went on to say the two percent wage increase this year was “long overdue. I just worry the sky is going to fall. I am just nervous about commitments to money,” and he said there is “too much uncertainty coming out of Lansing.”

For the first time in years, Lansing has indicated county governments can expect full funding of revenue sharing payments for fiscal year 2015. Clare County expects to receive $515,942 this year and $645,334 next year.

But Kleinhardt isn’t assured state revenue dollars will materialize in light of the massive road destruction the harsh winter weather has caused. He said voters will demand road repairs this election year that won’t come cheap.

Kleinhardt also anticipates other department heads will seek increases.

According to the county budget, the prosecutor earns $82,000, the sheriff around $57,000, the clerk in the mid-50s and the treasurer in the 50s.

“I’ve been on the board eight years and this year’s two percent increase is actually the first raise we’ve given to elected people and department heads. It was long overdue,” Kleinhardt said, adding the county is “probably in as good of shape as we’ve ever been.”

Revenue has spiked from the money collected from renting jail space to inmates from other counties, federal prisoners and incidental sources such as pay phone and commissary.

For example, the sheriff’s department collected $912,000 in 2012 from other counties and $1.23 million in 2013. Clare County expects at least one million dollars this year.

In other business Wednesday, the county board:

RECEIVED an update on restructuring at the sheriff’s department. An information technology specialist position has been filled that other departments will share. This person will work with the county’s I.T. coordinator Jim Neff and be paid from 911 millage revenue and register of deeds funds. The department has replaced a position of lieutenant detective with another detective who will report to a sergeant. An administrative professional/clerical supervisor will be promoted from the ranks.

APPROVED agreement between Farwell Schools, village of Farwell and Surrey Township to place a deputy on school premises for the remaining school year. Each entity is paying approximately $5,700.

APPROVED a video surveillance agreement between the sheriff’s department and Clare-Gladwin RESD. The 911 dispatch center can access live video footage of schools for any emergency. There will be instant live feed access to guide emergency responders to the appropriate areas.

APPROVED a Homeland Security intergovernmental agreement between the county and West Michigan Shoreline Development Commission.

APPROVED lease agreement with Clare County Transit Corporation to lease the former transit building to store forfeiture vehicles and to work on county vehicles using the hoist. Space will be subleased to Mobile Medical Response for an ambulance station.

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