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Published: Thursday, 3/20/2003

Walbridge mayor's proposals assailed

The Walbridge finance and tax director spoke out against the village mayor's proposed salary cuts and reshuffling of employees during last night's council meeting.

Ethel Hierholzer - who has been on a leave of absence since Mayor Dan Wilczynski issued the proposal two weeks ago - said she objected to her salary being cut while another position would remain unchanged. She currently makes $37,080 annually. If the changes are approved by council, her salary would be $15.25 an hour. She also questioned why her title would be changed to tax manager and she would report to the newly created position of village fiscal officer. The mayor recommended the village hire Karen Verbryke, Walbridge clerk of court, at $37,440 for that position.

The proposal Mr. Wilczynski issued to the council two weeks ago would save the village about $26,000 a year, he said.

“In order to move forward, we need to have a strong organization that functions well as a team,” Mr. Wilczynski said. “In order to function well, everyone needs to know their responsibilities.”

The mayor said he evaluated the positions for all village employees and Mrs. Hierholzer's position needed “the most adjusting.”

Also included in the mayor's recommendations were changing the village manager position to a part-time job at a salary of $15,000 annually. The village has never had a manager. He recommended that Ron Liwo, the clerk-treasurer, be hired for that position. The clerk position will be abolished effective April, 2004.

Mr. Wilczynski also recommended that the village administrator position, which pays $38,280 a year, be abolished, and the position of street superintendent, which would pay $35,880, be established in its place. He also recommended changing the police chief position, which pays $37,080 a year, to marshal, which would pay $35,880 a year.

In other business, the village council heard a first reading on an ordinance to hire a law firm for collection services of Walbridge income taxes. The village has about 20 residents who have been delinquent in their taxes for a long period of time, Mrs. Hierholzer said. The firm would charge the village one-third of the amount it collects.

Councilman Jerry Eversman said the village should pursue criminal charges against residents who refuse to pay their taxes, rather than hire a law firm to collect the money.

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