$17,000+ Salary Of Saugatuck Township Supervisor Being Questioned
As Saugatuck Township officials look ahead at the 2016-2017 fiscal year budget, some colleagues continue—and now some local taxpayers have joined—to ask if the supervisor’s annual salary of $17,000-plus is justifiable.
They are calling for a review and a possible change, particularly given that the supervisor’s administrative responsibility dramatically decreased 10 years ago with the hiring of a township manager.
Saugatuck Township resident Cheryl Giller wrote in a May 23 statement to the township board:
“Having worked with all three local municipalities (Saugatuck, Douglas, and Saugatuck Township) for many years I understand how this salary evolved over the years. The supervisor used to have major responsibilities for the smooth and efficient operations of all township business.
“This is no longer true today. Today the township has a hired township manager to handle most of the day-to-day business, provide the board with the research and information necessary to make informed decisions, and handle other duties that used to be the responsibility of the supervisor.”
Saugatuck Township Supervisor Bill Wester is paid more than $900 per Saugatuck Township Board meeting (the township averages 1.5 meetings a month or 18 meetings a year), yet the preparation of the monthly meetings and their agenda packets mostly falls on the shoulders of Saugatuck Township Clerk Brad Rudich and Saugatuck Manager Aaron Sheridan, not the supervisor, notes Rudich.
Wester was appointed supervisor on July 5, 2006 to fill Hank Gudith’s seat; before that he was a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals.
The township hired Phil Quade as manager in January 2001.
The proposed new budget’s annual and per diem renumeration for the township board members in their elected capacity is as follows: supervisor $17,604; clerk $10,428; treasurer $10,937; and trustees $50 per diem.
Besides their elected roles, the clerk and treasurer get additional salary compensation for the day-to-day running of the township.
“I think it would be more reasonable to have $100 per diem/per meeting,” noted Rudich of what he thinks the supervisor’s compensation should be.
He shares the notion with Giller that the $17,604 currently budgeted for the supervisor’s salary could be used elsewhere to better benefit township taxpayers.
When Saugatuck Trustee Roy McIlwaine raised the issue last month, Wester said it was the wrong time to discuss the issue as the township board was already reviewing its next fiscal year (ending June 30, 2017); the topic would have to be picked up at a later time.
However, Giller feels it is precisely the right time to talk about it in the face of shrinking municipal budgets (the general fund for the township’s proposed budget for revenues and expenditures tentatively totals $741,192).
“Currently the supervisor’s primary job is to preside over all township board meetings. I realize there may be other duties that arise occasionally that deserve compensation.
“I believe these unexpected events could be compensated separately, based on a formula established by the board for individual and unique situations requiring the supervisor’s attention,” Giller noted in her statement.