Michael Cramer
Michael Cramer
MENOMINEE - The Menominee City Council voted unanimously Monday to accept the resignation of City Manager Michael Cramer, but the majority voted down a motion to allow him to leave his position early.

Cramer submitted his letter of resignation Wednesday, and asked the council to consider letting him leave after working Friday, instead of Oct. 16 - which would fulfill the 30-day notice requirement in his contract. Cramer has accepted a position in Carolina Beach, N.C.

He thanked council members for their support during his tenure and explained that the new position would allow he and his wife to be employed in the same area, instead of the current situation they are in, where she works four hours away.

Some council members suggested keeping an employee after they have decided to leave would be counterproductive, while others said that four days would not give the city enough time to make a transition to an interim manager.

Ultimately, the council voted 5-4 to hold Cramer to the 30-day notice, with a caveat that would allow him to leave sooner if the council was confident that all the necessary issues had been addressed.

Council member Mark Jasper said he understood Cramer's desire to move on to his new job, but added that he thought it was best for the council and the city for Cramer to stay through transition.

"The end of this week is just a little too early," agreed Council member Frank Pohlmann. He suggested the council consider a compromise with Cramer that would "meet in the middle."

Council members asked what Cramer needed to handle before he left and what pending projects existed. Cramer said there currently are 14 ongoing projects, but that in each case, he was working with a department head or another individual. "I'm not sure anything needs to be divvied up," Cramer said.

Still, others thought it was important that Cramer be available for the special council meeting Monday, even though he said the agenda and all supporting documents had been prepared.

City Attorney Rob Jamo and Menominee Economic Development Corp. Director Nancy Douglas were asked if Cramer's signature was required on any documents. They answered that someone designated by the council could sign any documents needed.

Council member Leon Felch said the city should release Cramer early.

"Once an employee resigns, they become extremely hesitant to get involved in anything new," Felch said. "I really don't have a problem with Friday (being Cramer's last day)."

Council member Mark Erickson concurred.

"Once an employee resigns, you need to make the switch quickly," he said. Council member Hugh Vary echoed that statement. "If a person resigns, you probably will not get a great deal of work out of that person."

Mayor Jean Stegeman said that, when she was working in banking, after a person resigned, "you packed up a box and you left." But she said that a position such as a city manager requires more transition.

"I don't want the city left in the lurch. I know you want to move on, but four days is not enough time," she said to Cramer. "We need to have a smooth transition, a smooth hand-off."

It was suggested that the council split the difference and keep Cramer through the first week of October, but Cramer said he still has some vacation time he would use and he needed to be out of town Oct. 7-9.

Jasper made the motion to hold Cramer to the 30-day notice in his contract, unless the council decided otherwise at a later time. The roll-call vote had Felch, Vary, Erickson and Al Walker opposed, with Jasper, Stegeman, Pohlmann, Arnie Organ and Bill Plemel in support.

The council had two decisions left to make - how it would find an interim manager and how it would pursue hiring a new city manager.

Stegeman told the council that it could seek a professional search firm or contract with the Michigan Municipal League to advertise and find candidates for the full-time position. At one point in the discussion, Pohlmann said that MML was a bargain, in that it charges 10 percent of the designated salary for the individual, plus expenses, while a search firm would charge at least 30 percent.

But finding an interim manager could not got through MML, except to access its website for a list of potential interims, both Jamo and Cramer said.

Felch suggested Jamo step into the role of interim briefly, as he did several years ago before Cramer was hired.

"The answer is no," Jamo said quickly. "A few weeks turned into 6 1/2 months."

The council discussed advertising on its own for an interim and a full-time manager and what MML would provide. In the previous search, Jamo contacted MML and it took care of all the advertising and vetting for candidates.

A flurry of motions and seconds and amendments followed, as members tried to decide whether they needed to advertise for an interim manager or look at the MML list; whether Jamo should review the list of potential interim managers; or whether the mayor and the chairman of the Judicial, Legislative, Personnel and Labor Committee or the whole committee should pare down the list and interview interim candidates.

The council members even debated whether the decision to hire an interim manager and begin the process for a manager should be in the same motion.

In the end, after a number of revisions, a motion was made and unanimously approved to authorize Stegeman and Plemel (who is chairman of the JLP&L Committee) to review the MML list of potential interim managers, create a short list and contact the individuals by telephone before coming back to the council with a recommended candidate.

A subsequent motion to contract with MML to begin a search for a replacement city manager was also approved unanimously.