Calumet discusses creating manager position

Daily Mining Gazette file photo Calumet Village President Dave Geisler said the issue of creating a village manager position will be discussed at this week’s Ordinance Committee meeting.

CALUMET — The Village Council briefly discussed writing an ordinance to create the position of village manager to replace the village administrator position.

The discussion was brought up at the council’s Jan. 15 meeting, at which Joe Snow, the current administrator whose contract expires next month, said he would consider remaining if the position was changed to village manager.

The action would require an ordinance to create the position.

Trustee Nathan Anderson said he is hesitant to support an ordinance unless it strengthens the position of the Village Council president to have authority and supervision over a manager.

In most villages, Anderson said, it is too easy to hire a manager and too difficult to fire one if that person does not perform to expectations.

He thought the position of village manager would too independent of the council and president.

Village President Dave Geisler said that was not a major concern to him, because state law establishes the duties of each member of a village government, including the president.

It also states “some administrative duties” of the president may be transferred to a village manager.

The law also authorizes the village president to remove any appointed officer for neglect of duty. Geisler said Calumet is an exception in that most village councils consist of member who hold full-time jobs and cannot commit to spending large numbers of hours on municipal government.

A village manager, he said, handles most of the day-to-day decisions of municipal management, which currently falls on the president and council.

“What an ordinance to create a manager basically says is we will employ someone on the council’s behalf, who basically will make most decisions, so the council becomes a policy-making body and not a major decision-maker,” Geisler said.

While the council does remain a decision-making body, it does not get involved in day-to-day decisions.

“Things like purchasing, hiring and firing,” Geisler said, “Basically that individual is responsible for managing the municipality.”

For example, the Street Department director reports to the council, when he could report to a village manager, relieving the council to tend to other business.

“To be honest, Joe already operates as a village manager,” said Geisler. “The day-to-day decisions of the village are made here, and again, he looks to the budget, he looks to the council for guidance. Then again, we have a council that gets very, very involved in the day-to-day operations of the village. It takes a leap of faith from the council to say we are going to trust this individual with the day-to-day business of the village.”