2018-12-06 / Local News

Wagner resigns; to join MDOT

By Eric Carlson
of the Enterprise Staff

DAN WAGNER, managing director of the Leelanau County Road Commission for more than three years, has resigned. DAN WAGNER, managing director of the Leelanau County Road Commission for more than three years, has resigned. The Leelanau County Road Commission’s Managing Director for the past three years, Dan Wagner, has resigned to accept a position with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

At its regular monthly meeting Tuesday afternoon, the Road Commission voted 3-0 to appoint engineer James C. Johnson to serve as managing director until a replacement can be found for Wagner, who is also an engineer.

Before Wagner was hired just over three years ago, Johnson served for many years as the Road Commission’s engineer/manager. In 2015, however the Road Commission decided to split the positions, adding Wagner as manager.

“It’s no secret that Jim Johnson will probably retire next year, so we need to consider whether we want these positions to remain separate,” said Joe Nedow, the commission’s finance manager.

Commissioners agreed to seek a replacement for Wagner based on the current managing director job description, and to have Johnson begin serving also as interim manager effective immediately. Wagner’s last day at work will be Dec. 14, although Wagner said he may provide some additional help after then.

Wagner’s ending salary as managing director was $81,579 annually. Wagner has accepted a position as the North Region Design Unit Leader with MDOT. Wagner said he will have offices in both Traverse City and Gaylord and expects to spend a considerable amount of time traveling in his new job.

Road Commission Chairman Jim Calhoun said the staff will begin the process of advertising for and locating a qualified replacement for Wagner. He added, however, that it will be up to the newly-seated and reconfigured Road Commission to decide who will be hired sometime early next year.

Earlier this year, county officials decided to increase membership on the Road Commission from three to five members. In January, Greg Mikowski and Tom Eckerle will join the commission.

The Road Commission also held a public hearing on its proposed budget for 2019 at this week’s meeting. Nedow outlined a spending plan of roughly $9 million based on roughly $9 million in revenues, with some $585,000 remaining in a fund balance at the end of the year.

Nedow noted that projected increases in revenue from state and federal sources as well as a local millage will bring about $1.5 million more into the Road Commission’s coffers compared to last year. At the same time, health insurance premiums are going up , unionized workers will be paid 2-percent more, and even the Road Commission itself will require more funding

As part of the increase from three to five members, county officials also raised pay for members of the Road Commission from $2,500 annually to $7,000, although other pay and benefits were reduced.

Nedow said the increased revenues will allow the Road Commission to complete work on more projects in 2019 than in previous years.

Following the budget hearing, on Wagner’s recommendation, the Road Commission agreed to award two-percent pay raises for non-unionized staff consistent with union contracts, restore $4,000 per year to the engineer’s annual salary following the cut he received in 2015, and add $1,780 to the annual salary of the finance manager who is “underpaid,” according to Wagner.

The Road Commission’s vote on Wagner’s proposal for pay raises was 2-1 with commissioner Robert Joyce opposed. Joyce said he would prefer that the new, five-member Road Commission decide whether to award the pay raises after the first of the year.

In other business at its meeting this week, the Road Commission:

 Went into closed session for about 15 minutes to discuss a confidential legal matter with the commission’s attorney related to the “Haley fence matter.” No additional information was available.

 Learned that a small claim had been filed against the Road Commission related to flooding damage to a home on Gills Pier Road.

 Agreed to reschedule the first meeting of 2019 to Wednesday, Jan. 2, to avoid a conflict with the New Year holiday.

 Agreed to extend a 2018 contract with a highway painting contractor after being warned that prices are expected to rise in 2019. Joyce said he hoped staff would double-check in 2019 to see if the warning was valid.

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