By Jef Rietsma
Vicksburg Village Council members approved the hiring of a new full-time clerk and created two part-time positions.
The clerk position will be filled by former village employee Christian Wines.
At a March 21 meeting, Village Manager Jim Mallery called the departure of utility clerk Denise Herald “bittersweet.” Herald’s retirement was effective March 31.
Mallery said Herald’s departure prompted him to review village staffing. He elaborated on his conclusion, stating a question that emerged following discussions with the village’s office staff.
“How can we staff a village that is growing in the manner that we are, knowing what we’re juggling right now? It’s certainly time for the village to move to a full-time village clerk and then … instead of having an additional utility clerk, we felt that (it would be best) to go with two part-time positions.”
Mallery said the restructuring means the village clerk would oversee accounts payable – including utility billing – compiling and typing up minutes, and being in charge of storage of informational technology. Meanwhile, customer-service employees would tend the counter to handle customers and other walk-in traffic.
Such a proposal would increase payroll by up to 15 percent, Mallery acknowledged.
Council President Tim Frisbie said the need for a clerk in Vicksburg has existed for years. He called Mallery’s proposal “a workable plan. We’ve had these conversations … we’re becoming a community that needs a clerk,” he said. “Having a shared resource for the front desk is necessary to cover illnesses and vacation.”
Mallery said Wines has a good history as a former village employee. Wines in August 2020 was unsuccessful in his bid for Brady Township Clerk.
Council member Rick Holmes said he would like to see Wines’ role evolve to include director of economic development. Holmes initially indicated reservations about the two part-time customer-service posts until the village has a clearer picture of its 2022-23 fiscal year. After deeper discussion with Mallery, however, he said he was OK with supporting the plan.
Frisbie said the village’s Human Resources Committee discussed candidates and Wines’ name was brought up repeatedly. “Christian’s got a history with us,” Frisbie said. “He worked for the village from 2017 to 2021 in numerous capacities; all the responsibilities he took on he excelled at. We’re getting a young individual that’s very passionate about this community, passionate about growth and learning, and he’s going to jump right in on day one and make an impact.”
Council member Gail Reisterer, a human resources committee member, said she is excited to bring Wines aboard. “He already knows about the running of the office. He’s worked in that office, so it’s going to be somebody stepping in who’s qualified but also is well aware of how the office runs,” she said. “It’s an excellent opportunity. He’s a young man, he’s just getting started and I think that will be very good, too, because we need some young blood here.”
Mallery said Wines’ starting wage is $50,000. Wines will be subject to a review in six months, with the opportunity to earn a raise. Mallery said it’s critical to offer an attractive salary, in part, to avoid losing him to another opportunity within a few years. Still, he said the amount is in line with clerks of similar-sized communities elsewhere in Michigan.
Mallery noted he would like the two part-time employees to start at staggered times, the first by the end of April, the second in May.
Frisbie concluded with an additional thought: “The residents/taxpayers have a fallen tree, a pothole, they want to talk to somebody in the village. We owe it to them to be there in front of them all the time, and have good, consistent answers,” he said. “I think increasing that staffing level will put us there.”
By Jef Rietsma