Stage set for city manager search
Cramer a no-show for council meeting
Monday, September 30, 2013 7:00 PM
MENOMINEE - The one topic that has consumed a great deal of interest in the city of Menominee the past couple weeks was the only one taken off the city council agenda Monday night: An interim city manager.
City Manager Michael Cramer tendered his resignation Sept. 18 and the council accepted it five days later. Monday night, the topic of finding an interim manager was removed from discussion in order to allow the Judicial and Legislative/Personnel and Labor Committee to meet at 8 a.m. Wednesday to hash it out in more detail.
"We decided to meet as a committee. It had just been Councilman (Bill) Plemel and I discussing this," explained Mayor Jean Stegeman after Monday's meeting. "However Councilman Plemel was out of town all weekend and because we did not have an adequate amount of time to discuss this and make a recommendation to the council, we took it off the agenda because there was really no action required by the council."
An interim manager needs to be found before Cramer leaves Oct. 16. That person would be in place until the council finds a full-time replacement. The city is enlisting the help of the Michigan Municipal League (MML). Stegeman said a short list of interim candidates is being compiled and often such a person is a retired city manager who enjoys keeping involved in the business.
"I have contacted a number of those folks who are willing to come to the Upper Peninsula, that is a big factor, too, as far as professional managers, there are a few who are interested," she said. "We have whittled them to a short list."
Stegeman said the position, both full and interim, would be posted in house as well but that anyone applying would have to have the right qualifications and experience. With Oct. 16 just a couple weeks away, time is critical. The mayor said the council may have someone picked by then, but isn't sure if they'll be able to start that soon.
"I don't know that they would already be on-site, however, I am confident that we have hard-working, loyal department heads who can carry the ball until we can get a little more help," she said.
Making the timeline just a bit tighter was a Sept. 25 letter from Cramer to the mayor and council which read in part, "Following the (Sept. 23) meeting I reviewed my future schedule and my annual, sick and accrued leave balances. I have decided to utilize my balances and will be out of the office from Sept. 30 through Oct. 9. I will return to work on Oct. 10 and stay until Oct. 16 as requested by council."
Cramer was not at Monday night's meeting, something that did not sit well with Stegeman.
"I would say there was disappointment that Michael chose to take that route, which was in opposition to what council had requested last week," she said.
Asked if Cramer's absence would impact the city, city hall or services, Stegeman replied, "I think we have motivated department heads. The treasurer's department is going to continue to function as if nothing has really changed. I'll probably spend more time here. We have terrific employees who are loyal and motivated, they will continue to do their jobs."
While most of the emphasis at the moment is on bringing in an interim manager, City Attorney Rob Jamo has been assigned the task of setting up the search for a full-time manager with the MML. The MML was used in the search that brought Cramer to the city nearly two-and-a-half years ago. Stegeman said she was not unhappy with the way that search was done, saying it was smooth and provided a service at a cost much less than a private search firm would charge.
Since 2006, Menominee has had three full-time city managers. It is designed by charter as a manager form of government. Prior, the city had a mayoral form of government with no manager. When asked if the council would consider going back to that method, Stegeman deflected the idea.
"As the sitting mayor I am not going to speak to that. I would not want this to appear anything other than a set of independent circumstances and not that there was other motivation," she said. "I'll let the situation stand where it is. That's a two-year process to change the current set-up and I'm not going to speak to that. If anyone else is talking about it, I'm unaware."