2016-01-14 / Opinion

Would Rather See Raises for County Employees Than MEA Increase


To the Editor:

I attended the Mackinac County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday, December 22. As part of the budget discussion, the Mackinac Economic Alliance compensation was discussed. There were many people there in support of an increase in MEA funding. While I believe the MEA board has done a tremendous job, and Anne Ottaway and Dean Reid work tirelessly for our community, however, I did object to the 70% increase in funding for the group.

Please consider that the board had given $50,000 per year for three years, with 2016 to be the last year. Our commissioners recognized the good work of the MEA, and gave them a 20% raise in funding to $60,000. After much discussion, Calvin “Bucky” McPhee suggested an additional $5,000; other board members would not have it. I felt the original 20% was a large enough increase, reminding the board that Bryce Tracy, who has been a loyal and hardworking employee, was denied a 6% raise that would not even be from the county budget. The 911 board felt his efforts for the safety and welfare of the citizens of Mackinac County warranted the raise.

I read with interest Paul Gingras’ article entitled “Funding Hiked For Economic Development,” published in the December 31 issue of The St. Ignace News, concerning the MEA funding, and was surprised that my comments were not mentioned. The article stated Ms. Ottaway’s salary would increase from $15,000 to $60,000, which is a 400% increase. I do agree that Ms. Ottaway has done a tremendous job, but what message is the board sending?

At the same meeting, the board approved the resignation of our equalization director, Jim Fenlon, who has worked for our county for almost 30 years. He had asked for a raise, and his request was rejected. Mr. Fenlon remained the true professional, refusing to comment. Some people did voice their support of Mr. Fenlon and are saddened we are losing a valued and loyal professional. I am sure Mr. Fenlon did not ask for a 400% increase, or even a 70% raise. At this point, Mackinac County does not have an equalization director at a critical time, with assessment roll and March Board of Review upon us.

I believe our long-term and loyal employees deserve the raises. I would ask, “Are committees more important than tried and true employees?”

I commend Jim Hill for sticking to his guns and voting against the huge increase.

Al Garavaglia

Hudson Township Supervisor


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