2018-03-22 / Views

Should Empire Village consider a manager?

Will Sam Barr be the last village president in Leelanau County with a hands-on role in running village government?

So far, all the rumblings we’ve heard coming out of Empire are related to Mr. Barr’s apparent unilateral suspension of clerk Traci Cruz and the fallout since.

But perhaps it’s time for a deeper discussion about the present practice of having council members oversee administration of village government.

Maybe it’s time to talk about creating a position for a non-elected village administrator or manager.

To be honest, we don’t believe that Mr. Barr’s office holds authority to suspend Ms. Cruz even though there was a lack of progress in the budget process. Council members, including Mr. Barr, took matters into their own hands after the clerk’s suspension by writing and approving the 2018-19 budget with a March 1 deadline approaching.

They got the job done on time at no extra cost to the village. Council members are only paid for meetings attended — $90 for the village president and $75 for trustees.

So we commend them for taking on the responsibility. A judge may eventually sort out the question of whether a village president in an unincorporated village can fire the clerk, as Ms. Cruz has hired a lawyer and a lawsuit is expected.

But in replacing Ms. Cruz, wouldn’t it make sense to take a deeper look at how Empire Village operates? Local governments, including general law villages, have grown complicated.

Perhaps it’s time to look at hiring a paid administrator, even in a part-time role, to help the village run smoothly.

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