SPECIAL MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
MONDAY, JUNE 19, 1995 AT 7:00 PM EDT
ACTIVITIES ROOM - NOVI CIVIC CENTER - 45175 W. TEN MILE
The meeting was called to order at 7:05 PM with Mayor McLallen presiding.
ROLL CALL: Council Members Crawford (present), Mason (present), Mitzel (present), Pope (absent-excused), Schmid (present), Toth (present), and Mayor McLallen (present).
Present (6) Absent (1-Pope)
ALSO PRESENT: Edward F. Kriewall - City Manager
Craig Klaver - Assistant City Manager
Geraldine Stipp - City Clerk
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING:
Mayor McLallen said the purpose of this special meeting was to discuss the appointment of a city clerk. She said applicants were interviewed extensively several weeks ago and some members of council were ready to make a decision that night and other members of council asked that staff use their networks to gather further background information and comments. She noted that no new information of a hidden nature was forthcoming.
Councilman Schmid said the three county and local sources he talked to were all very, very positive regarding the applicant from Warren; he said nothing negative came up and she was highly qualified.
Mayor McLallen asked if council was ready to make a recommendation; she said there was the separate issue of the financial package to be presented and benefits and there seemed to be some discussion based on the way the offer could be made.
Councilman Schmid said the direction they were going on salary could have some bearing on choice. He said Mary Kotowski currently made $49,000 and Gail Kundinger and Tonni Burns were in the mid-$30,000s. He said he pointed this out only to the extent that if they were going to offer something less than $49,000 it may affect Mary Kotowski's viability for the position. He said maybe administration should clarify what they were planning.
Mayor McLallen said the issue the last time was to acknowledge the fact that there was a range with a performance increment after a certain amount of time but not necessarily the maximum.
Ed Kriewall said they could certainly negotiate for council or with council but first they had to decide on who they wanted and that would drive the salary. He said if they decided on either Gail or Tonni realistically they could offer $40,000 to $45,000 and with Mary Kotowski $45,000 to $51,000 would be his suggestion depending on how badly they wanted to get out of their job. He said they could normally find that out by talking with them; he said there was such a wide divergence here in terms of what they were currently making that they almost had to decide who they wanted and how bad they wanted them because he felt two could be hired for considerably less.
Councilman Crawford said his overwhelming top choice was Mary Kotowski, second was Tonni Burns, and reluctant third choice was Gail Kundinger. He said he thought they would all serve them well and they would perhaps pay more for Mary Kotowski but they might get what they paid for in this case, too. He said his suggestion was since this was a council appointment, council certainly must be visible at any negotiations, however, this person is administration and works closely with administration, so his suggestion would be a committee comprised of the city manager and the mayor to sit down with whomever they chose and offer whatever they deem the proper range for that person and see what she has to say.
Mr. Kriewall said they could also feel them out without making an offer - by just asking what it would take to get them to come since they probably all had a number in their own mind.
Councilman Crawford said he felt there were other reasons also why someone would come here other than strictly the money; this would be an exciting career change and a challenge and everything else.
Councilman Toth said they did pretty extensive interviewing and he was sorry no minutes were taken because he felt there were some questions asked that council should have been aware of. He said he didn't know who to pin the fault on but there were some rather pointed questions asked. He said Mary Kotowski was asked about her relationship with Senator Art Miller who is her brother-in-law and she had worked for Edna Miller who was the county clerk for Macomb County and went to Warren when Edna Miller went to Warren so she has a relationship with the Miller family. In addition, he believed her brother-in-law was also running for Mayor. He said he offered this basically because it wasn't explained to them before so if anything happens in Warren he didn't know whether she would go back to Warren because she had connections there but it was a possibility to consider.
He said they haven't discussed one of the key things that they should discuss before offering anybody any money and that was a probationary period. He said there should be a probationary period of 3 months to a year and there should be two salary levels - one to start with and one at the end of the probationary period if they elect to keep her on.
Councilman Toth said secondly this person is hired to work for the council, not for the city administration and they should be hired with the understanding that they work for the city council and with the city administration. He said if they didn't have that understanding up front, he felt they were creating problems for this council and future councils. He commented they had to keep politics out of it.
Councilman Toth said he gave them a lot of things to think about on the council rules and a lot of information under goals and objectives and nobody bothered to read it or comment about it. He said they should be concerned with those things and the package should set the tone for the rest of the administration.
Councilman Toth said he wouldn't vote; he didn't like the way the process was handled. He didn't think it should have been that selective; it should have been opened up to everybody that had the ability to do that job and he took exception to the way the job description was written up. He said he felt the job description should not have been tailored in the fashion it was and that it cut out a segment of the market that they didn't even look at. Mr. Toth said that was done by council acceptance and there was a memo from him saying that it should have been changed; he said there were many qualified individuals out there who could have probably fit the bill and it shortchanged the citizens by not allowing those people to be looked at. He said they let the city administration run wild with the thing and he didn't like the process.
Mayor McLallen asked if he had any serious objections to any of the candidates or any real concerns about their ability to do the job.
Councilman Toth said he had some information which he would prefer to be off the record. He said it was coming from a relative of his and it was something he felt the council should be aware of but if this person was hired, he didn't want it to be in the minutes where she could find it. He said as a personnel matter, he would like it off the record.
Councilman Schmid said he was a little disappointed in the number of candidates who applied and that they wound up with deputies. He said based on the written materials received and the interview, he went with Tonni Burns. He said just going on technical qualifications, he felt Mary Kotowski was very well qualified and a personable person as evidenced by the interview, however, he detected a hardness there that may not fit nicely to the City of Novi. He said he saw Gerry Stipp as one of the finest city clerks and one of her major qualifications was her personality and her ability to get along with people and her ability to overlook no matter what is said and work objectively. Mr. Schmid said in his perception, he saw in Mary a political person; she has been involved in Macomb County politics, her appointments have been political and she has been very active in campaigns. He said he questioned whether that would be the best step for the City of Novi and whether that could affect her ability to work with people and work with council. He said he saw her as a bit hard and that was contrary to both of the other candidates.
Councilman Schmid said Gail Kundinger's resume bothered him somewhat because it was overkill; she had a lot of evaluations in her packet and most of them were fairly positive but certainly not outstanding. He said she had good recommendations overall but not an outstanding, excellent candidate for a job.
Councilman Schmid said he saw Tonni Burns as an individual who lives in the area, her resume was well done, she has a good background as a deputy although not as well qualified as Mary Kotowski but she would learn those things. He said she was probably excellent in computers; he felt she would fit better with the City of Novi and grow with Novi. He said she had the demeanor and personality that would better fit the community.
Councilman Schmid said he could live with the selection of any of the candidates but would hope they would select Tonni Burns.
Councilman Crawford said in response to his comment on deputies, in many cities - the way they were run and the political atmosphere - the deputy clerk did everything if the city clerk was an elected official. He said he was concerned too that clerks weren't applying but in many cases, it was the deputy clerk that did the actual work.
Councilman Mitzel said after the interview session, he was impressed most with Mary Kotowski and Gail Kundinger and Tonni Burns were about tied. He said all three had very good computer skills and very good organization skills. He said Mary Kotowski seemed a strong personality that could handle any job but maybe slightly too strong. He said with Tonni Burns, although it was obvious that she was nervous at the interview, she seemed a little too soft spoken in his opinion and he was concerned whether or not she would have the strength to be able to work into the new job and lead the clerk's office.
Councilman Mitzel said initially his choice was Mary Kotowski but all three were good. Then it was either Gail Kundinger or Tonni Burns because of the other issues brought up tonight by Councilman Toth that he didn't know how to take into consideration and Councilman Schmid and the salary issue. Councilman Mitzel asked Mr. Fried if they advertised a range of $45,000 to $54,000 were they under any obligation to offer at least $45,000, and Mr. Fried said no.
Councilwoman Mason said they may be able to get Gerry Stipp to come in and consult and her feeling was Mary Kotowski would probably not allow that. She said there was also the salary issue. She said her first choice would be Gail Kundinger probably because of her maturity and background and she was comfortable that she would be able to work with Gerry and the council and the administration and be open to find out how Novi did things; she didn't think Mary would be open to that once she had the position. She said she didn't feel Tonni Burns had enough experience because there were a lot of crises and heavy duty things going on here.
She said she didn't understand why they didn't get more applications, and Mr. Kriewall said possibly city clerks weren't as portable as other department heads. They were more ingrained with their communities. Mr. Kriewall noted that ads for the position were placed in several widely read municipal publications, and Councilwoman Mason said but they didn't put it in the Free Press or News.
Councilwoman Mason said she was not comfortable with any of the three candidates; she questioned why they didn't receive applications from places like Grand Blanc. Gerry Stipp noted they had received one from Grand Blanc but he withdrew.
Councilwoman Mason said her first pick would be Gail Kundinger, then Tonni Burns and then Mary Kotowski. She said they had to do a probationary period based on one salary and then an increase based on an evaluation.
Councilman Toth said a probationary period of six months would be his recommendation. He said they had two choices: select one of the three or go out and start interviewing again.
Mayor McLallen said based on the interviews, she felt that Mary Kotowski was the strongest candidate and given the shoes she would have to stand in, she felt the individual would need a strong personality in order to put her own stamp on the job. She said whether it would be too strong a personality which has been expressed and become an irritant, that was what a probationary period would show. The Mayor said that while Gail Kundinger was
a delightful person who would be lovely around the city, she did not think Novi was the city she was going to find her career in.
The Mayor said while Tonni Burns had a terribly nervous interview, as the interview went on she became more comfortable with a bit more authority. She said as everyone expressed, her personality was more of a match to this job.
She said she was split between Mary and Tonni and agreed with a six month probationary period. She said if there was greater council support for Tonni Burns, she felt she would be quite agreeable for the city and she felt it was important that council make a decision and a recommendation now.
Councilwoman Mason said she was not comfortable with the three candidates.
Councilman Crawford said he didn't feel anything would be gained by opening up the process; it was well advertised and all the city clerks in the state probably knew there was a job available in Novi. He said time was getting short to get someone on board to work with Gerry Stipp; they were all qualified and he could live with any of the three candidates.
Councilman Crawford said hypothetically, what if they agreed on Mary and she wouldn't come for the salary offered; what position did that put council in. He said they were kind of showing their hand and was there another way to handle it.
Mr. Fried said Mr. Kriewall laid it out; have administration sit down with whomever council selected and then come back with a recommendation as to salary.
Councilman Crawford said this was a council appointment and he felt council should have a presence which was why he suggested the mayor and the city manager with the mayor leading the discussion but certainly he would want administration in on those discussions.
Councilman Toth said on the question of salary, he felt council should decide the salary and determine what the mid-max range is and perhaps what the initial offer would be and what the salary would be after the probationary period. He said it should be a council decision and administration should be directed to offer that. He said they should discuss the entire package - time off, vacation, benefits - because this employee did not fit into the normal category of administrative personnel.
Councilman Toth said they asked applicants when interviewing if they would be willing to relocate; he asked council members if the city was going to pick up that cost. This was something they should decide as well as how soon would they expect that person to relocate.
Councilman Schmid said he made a good point although he felt they could proceed with trying to get a selection and then administration could make recommendations on a package. He said his assumption was that the benefit package would be similar to other employees.
Councilman Schmid said he would like to nominate Tonni Burns for the reasons previously given, and he did believe in a probation period because this was a difficult position and the first person selected could fail.
Councilman Toth said he would support that nomination for discussion purposes.
It was then,
Moved by Councilman Schmid,
Seconded by Councilman Toth,
To nominate Tonni Burns for the position of city clerk with a probationary period to be specified.
Councilman Toth said once they established the six month period, one of the things they should decide on was what type of measure they were going to use and would they be per month, per week, etc. He said they should be looking at the person being able to come up to speed in certain areas and do certain things and that should be conveyed to that person because she may have a totally different idea of what can be done and they may not be measuring the same parameters. He said those things should be identified, if not tonight, before the offer was made.
Councilman Crawford said he had nothing to discuss other than his preference was Mary Kotowski. He said it wasn't that he didn't want Tonni Burns but maybe they needed a different procedure to vote - such as who received the most first place votes, second place votes and third. He said maybe that would be a way to reach a consensus and then make a motion on that and he would be willing to support whatever that consensus was, but right, the motion eliminates the other two and that left him in a awkward position.
Mayor McLallen said she did that as they spoke around the table and Mary Kotowski had 2 first places from herself and Mr. Crawford, a second from Mr. Schmid, a third from Ms. Mason and no comments so far from Mr. Mitzel and a complete no from Mr. Toth.
She said Gail Kundinger came in third from her, Mr. Crawford, and Mr. Schmid, Mr. Toth did not wish to comment, she was Ms. Mason's first choice and Mr. Mitzel has not commented.
She said Tonni Burns came in second for her, Ms. Mason and Mr. Crawford, first for Mr. Schmid, and no comment from Mr. Mitzel or Mr. Toth so the most consensus at this point was on Ms. Burns.
Councilman Mitzel said he was still inclined to say Mary Kotowski first and Tonni Burns as a strong second choice. He said he agreed they needed measurables for the probationary evaluation.
Councilman Crawford said as a comment to one of Mr. Toth's comments, he felt whomever was picked, he firmly believed that person did fit in the administrative policy. He said he didn't think the benefit package was negotiable; whatever the current package was he thought that was what they should get - no more and no less. The only negotiable thing in his mind was the salary range.
Yes (2-Schmid, McLallen) No (4) Absent (1-Pope)
Mayor McLallen said at this point they had on the table the issue of not having any special meetings and they have not chosen a city clerk and yet the city clerk was leaving in three weeks.
It was then,
Moved by Councilman Crawford,
Seconded by Councilman Mitzel,
That the position of city clerk be offered to Mary Kotowski.
Yes (2-Crawford, Mitzel) No (4) Absent (1-Pope)
It was then,
Moved by Councilwoman Mason,
That the position of city clerk be offered to Gail Kundinger.
The motion died for lack of support and city council opened their regularly scheduled 8:00 PM council meeting.
At 11:15 PM, the regular council meeting was adjourned and Mayor McLallen announced they would continue with the Special 7:00 PM meeting on the issue of the selection of a City Clerk.
It was then,
Moved by Councilman Crawford,
Seconded by Councilman Schmid,
That the position of city clerk be offered to Tonni Burns.
ROLL CALL: Council Member Crawford (yes), Mason (no), Mitzel (yes), Schmid (yes), Toth (no), and Mayor McLallen (yes).
Yes (4) No (2) Absent (1) Motion carried
At this point, microphones had been shut off by the video technician so the tape did not record.
Discussion followed regarding the benefit package. Councilman Mitzel said he felt comfortable saying that the benefit package would be the same as administration with salary negotiations by the manager and mayor.
Discussion continued on ironing out what measurables were going to be used during the probation period and how to evaluate those measurables.
Councilman Toth said he felt the city manager should be directed to come up with a complete list of city benefits; he would also like to direct the current city clerk to provide council with a possible list of tasks that could be measured. He said as far as the salary, the city administration should provide something for council discussion.
Councilman Crawford said he felt the salary range needed to be talked about. He suggested a starting salary with an increase in 9 months and Councilman Schmid concurred.
Consensus was for the city manager to bring back a list of benefits and a recommendation for salary and detailed list of probation criteria. The mayor will contact Tonni Burns and inform here that she has been selected.
The special meeting adjourned at 12:35 AM.