Walbridge mayor, council clash over hiring new fiscal officer


By Debbie Rogers

[email protected]

WALBRIDGE — Council and the mayor are at odds over hiring a fiscal manager, and the village could be without one while they are figuring it out.

At last week’s meeting, council voted 3-2 to not hire Andy Tepper, who had been recommended by Mayor Ed Kolanko, as fiscal officer.

On Thursday, one day after the Wednesday council meeting, Fiscal Officer Patty Crawford, who is also the tax commissioner, submitted a letter of resignation, effective Aug. 11. She had been planning to retire for awhile and had medical leave planned for next month.

Kolanko, in an email to council after the meeting, said not hiring Tepper puts the village in a very difficult position.

“The candidate brought forward for hire … was discussed with the council approximately eight weeks ago with his application and resume made available to council per council’s request,” Kolanko stated.

“Unfortunately only two of the six members of council took the time to review the information,” he said adding that the human resource committee held multiple committee meetings during that same time without discussing the candidate or Crawford’s pending retirement.

“The current fiscal officer will be going on leave for medical reasons and we do not have current staff to perform needed fiscal tasks. Council presented no solutions to the matter,” he said.

Councilwoman Vicky Canales, after the meeting, said they need to “explore other avenues” for this position.

“I think he’s a great candidate. He’s well qualified. But I just think there’s other things that need to be looked at first,” Canales said.

“We just haven’t received a whole bunch of information,” said Councilwoman LaDenna Johnston. “I haven’t seen us explore other avenues, so I would just like to explore every avenue.”

Kolanko said that the available administrative staff members are part time, working less than 15 hours per week.

“We may struggle performing daily tasks of budget management, tax reviews, staff wages, bill payments and other duties. Patty Crawford deserves her retirement and I am hopeful council reconsiders their decisions — for the betterment of the village,” he said.

Council members in favor of hiring Tepper were Karen Baron and Sue Hart-Douglas. Canales, Johnston and Larry Boday voted against. Councilman Ron Liwo was absent.

According to Tepper’s resume, he is the tax administrator for Northwood and has a master’s degree in accounting. He lives in Lambertville, Michigan.

“We don’t get a lot of candidates for any of our positions. We’re not a high-paying municipality — that’s just the nature of it,” Kolanko said after the meeting. “We had somebody that could have stepped into the position, day one, and done the job.”

Council did approve the hiring recommendations of Amanda Stump, fiscal clerk; Debbie Guy, administrative clerk; and James Waltmire, part-time police officer.

The action came after a 30-minute executive session.

In other business, council asked Kolanko to do more research on putting village funds into certificates of deposit.

Kolanko said that Crawford researched several banks and found a 5.1% interest rate on a CD for 12 months.

He suggested putting $1 million into the 12-month CD. Another $500,000 could be put into a three-month CD, he said.

Canales suggested splitting the money up, into $250,000 increments, so it is insured.

“We’re going to have to go back to the drawing table,” Kolanko said, adding that the rates could be different at the next council meeting.

Also at the meeting, council:

• Approved an estimate of revenues for 2024 that total $2.2 million. Kolanko said this reflects a 1% increase in revenue.

• Heard from Steve Shaner, with community outreach for the Lake Township Fire Department. He said they have been at the village pool, handing out popsicles, and at the library for a “touch-a-truck” event.

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