2016-12-22 / Local News

County accountant gets promotion, but pay stays the same

Zywicki ran for county treasurer
By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff

Jennifer Zywicki, who lost in the General Election to incumbent Leelanau County Treasurer John A. Gallagher in the Nov. 8 election, is getting a promotion and more managerial responsibility.

However, she won’t be receiving a raise.

Leelanau County Clerk Michelle Crocker last week brought the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners a proposal to restructure her office and save taxpayers $15,700 to $18,700 per year by consolidating Zywicki’s current job responsibilities as Chief Staff Accountant with that of the Chief Deputy Clerk.

Crocker noted that she had no legal obligation to seek County Board approval for the naming of her new chief deputy, but needed authority to create and fill a new “account clerk” position in place of Zywicki’s “chief staff accountant” slot. The downgrade of that position is what results in the cost savings.

Within the County Clerk’s office, the Chief Deputy Clerk supervises three deputy clerks, and the Chief Staff Accountant supervises one account clerk. The restructuring will put the new Chief Deputy Clerk in charge of three deputy clerks and two account clerks.

Zywicki’s gross pay for her unionized position as Chief Staff Accountant earned her $46,919 per year and put her in charge of one other person. As Chief Deputy Clerk under the restructuring, Zywicki will now oversee both the accounting department and the county clerk functions, and supervise five people – all for the same $46,919 annual salary she’s been earning, and no union contract.

Crocker and Zywicki, a Democrat who had said after losing the election that she may not stay employed by the county, have been fielding a recurring question — could Zywicki’s new position be considered a consolation prize after losing in the election?

The very question makes Leelanau County Clerk Michelle Crocker, a Republican, roll her eyes and shake her head “no.”

But it’s a question Crocker and Zywicki have been facing since earlier this month when Crocker announced she plans to appoint Zywicki as Chief Deputy Clerk to replace Sherry Nedow, who is retiring at the end of the year after a career of 33 years in county government.

“Some consolation prize, huh?” Zywicki quipped with a chuckle. “It might have been that the County Board did not get as thorough an explanation of this as they should have.”

Indeed, Crocker’s proposal to restructure her office was approved by the County Board with the thinnest of margins, 4-3 votes both at the board’s executive meeting last week and at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday evening.

District No. 2 Commissioner Debra Rushton, District No. 3 Commissioner Will Bunek and District No. 7 Commissioner Melinda Lautner, all three Republicans, voted against Crocker’s proposal.

Bunek expressed concern that chief deputies in other departments might now start seeking pay adjustments. Rushton said she thought the change showed “favoritism.” Lautner said she was worried about what other changes might be proposed “down the road.”

District No. 1 Commissioner Tony Ansorge, a Republican, cast the swing vote in favor of the restructuring, joining District No. 4 Commissioner Ty Wessell, District No. 5 Commissioner Patricia Soutas-Little, and District No. 6 Commissioner Carolyn “Peachy” Rentenbach, the three Democrats, in voting “yes” on Crocker’s proposal.

Zywicki said she was “very honored and humbled” to accept the new position with increased responsibilities, and thanked Crocker for the opportunity.

Gallagher won re-election to a second four-year term as county treasurer on Nov. 8, defeating Zywicki 7,251 to 7,046, a margin of about 1.5-percent.

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