Trustee resigns from Dexter Township Board
With the resignation of board trustee Jim Drolett, the Dexter Township Board has an opening and is now looking for a replacement.
The township board officially accepted Drolett’s resignation on Aug. 19, and it’s accepting letters of interest and resumes for those interested in the position.
However, it was during the regular board meeting on Aug. 17, when things came to a head for Drolett and where he left the meeting abruptly, saying he was resigning.
There are two sides to this story.
For Drolett, he views the new township board operating in a disorganized fashion while the other members see themselves bringing modern and positive change to the township.
The Sun Times News reached out to both sides in an effort to follow up.
A lot of the concerns and issues for Drolett go back to April when he said the board was deciding on the annual budget.
Drolett said there’s a section in the budget that establishes pay scales for all township employees. He said at that time the township supervisor asked him to work with her at reviewing the pay scales and potentially putting forth a recommendation to increase them.
He said he went through the numbers and reviewed them, and then offered suggestions to the supervisor, which were typed up by the township’s former office manager and this would be presented to the rest of the board at a board meeting.
He said he thought there was an agreement on moving forward, but the treasurer and clerk didn’t support it.
And then at the same, he said the board agreed to give something like a three percent to employees on the same pay scale rather than look at what he, with some review by the supervisor, put together.
Then he said the supervisor suggested they conduct a wage study, even though that’s what he just did.
Fast forward to August, he said he and others on the board were informed by the deputy clerk that two employees, and no one else, recently received significant pay raises. He said the deputy treasurer got around a 27 percent pay increase while the zoning enforcement officer around 12 percent.
Drolett said this was done by the executive committee (composed of the supervisor, clerk and treasurer) without informing anyone else, including the other board members. He said the deputy clerk discovered this and asked about it, and was told there would be some retroactive pay increases for everyone.
According to Drolett, traditionally the deputy clerk and deputy treasurer had the same pay, but when the deputy clerk got an increase it was only for 19 cents.
And then at the Aug. 17 meeting, Drolett said a resolution, that no one had seen prior to the meeting, was presented to abolish the prior resolution of the 3 percent increases and said furthermore the executive committee, with consultant help, would set employee wages.
That’s when Drolettt said he “blew up.”
He said the others on the board have abdicated their authority to set wages and the executive committee is now looking to the hired consultant for help with various tasks, including with this.
Drolett said he initially supported having the consultant for a short term, specifically helping with audit matters, but now he said the township is keeping the firm on until next March without any idea of what that will cost.
“I can’t be a part of that,” Drolett said. “I just can’t sit around and watch these people destroy Dexter Township. Spend money just willy-nilly. I can’t do it.”
Drolett first served as trustee in 1982 for two years and then after that as supervisor for 12 years, and then came back in 2016 as a trustee and then was reelected in 2020.
He said in the recent past he has pushed to increase pay for all of the clerical staff, but then just two people received pay raises.
The township is also now looking for a deputy clerk, who has also resigned.
When asked about those who voted for him, Drolett said he’s sad and felt like he was the voice in the wilderness on the board. He suggested citizens start a recall before the board completely destroys the township.
He said people have to pay attention, and attend/watch meetings and if need be, express their displeasure.
He said the straw that broke the camel’s back, for him, was, “When they go around, behind the board, and do something they shouldn’t be doing, and then come back with a resolution to obliterate what the board itself had done, and turn it all over to a consultant.”
In talking with The Sun Times News, township supervisor Diane Ratkovich said change is hard. The motivation behind the compensation changes is an effort to modernize and make sure the individual is being paid for their duties.
Ratkovich said there were a lot of things with the running of the township that have been out of date. She said they hired the WoodHill Consulting Group to help streamline all of the township’s administrative procedures and financial policies.
“This is having a positive impact on the office and will save time and money from the previous burdensome financial systems, which also leaves opportunity for error,” Ratkovich said.
This is a challenging time, she went on to say.
She said the new board members, which are the rest of the board, were elected and took office in November on a platform of change.
“We want transparency to the community,” said Ratkovich. “We are trying different ways to include community comment at our meetings and run a successful monthly business meeting. We are all available to the public via email or telephone and we are happy to hear from our constituents.”
In looking back at the Aug. 17 meeting, Ratkovich said a resolution was put forth with to rescind Resolution 21-600 a (the budget pay scale) which dictates a salary scale based on longevity alone and demands that the entire board vote on salaries without knowledge on the day to day operations of the township.
“The majority of the trustees voted to allow the executive committee to establish staff salaries with professional standards accordingly,” she said. “We will establish a system to guide us in making these hard decisions and this will be brought to the board.”
However, she said this was a last minute meeting agenda item and that shouldn’t become commonplace.
“In retrospect, we are committed to completing agenda items by the Friday before the meeting and only adding anything that comes in after the deadline as a discussion item,” said Ratkovich.
Looking ahead, she said they will look to fill the board opening and continue to focus on the good things they want to bring to the township.
“We are moving forward with all the positive things we do,” Ratkovich said.
Here is the message to be posted on the township website:
“We want to give a big Thank You to James Drolett for his many years of service to Dexter Township. He resigned as a Trustee at the August 17th Board Meeting as of August 29, 2021. The Board of Trustees held a special meeting on August 19th to accept the resignation. Over the years, Jim has been a Trustee, Supervisor, Chelsea Area Construction Agency Board member representing Dexter Township and has been involved in multiple projects to improve and preserve our rural lifestyle. His experience and expertise will be missed.”
“Dexter Township is seeking candidates who are residents of Dexter Township to fill the vacant Trustee position through November 20, 2024. To apply please send a letter of interest and a brief resume to email@example.com by Sept 3, 2021.”
“Trustees are members of the Township Board with an equal vote in legislative and government decisions within the jurisdiction of the township board. A trustee is an individual placed in a position of public trust with fiduciary responsibilities to manage the affairs of the township for the best interest of the public.”
The position requires preparation for and presence at the monthly board meetings currently being held in person at the Townhall on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. There is a $6,180.00 annual salary.