SHELBY TOWNSHIP — In replacing his administrative assistant with a deputy supervisor, Township Supervisor Richard Stathakis said he hopes to do more while paying less.
Citing an annual cost savings between $3,000 and $7,000, Stathakis is hoping to replace his full-time administrative assistant, who retired in July 2012, with a deputy supervisor in an attempt to focus on an added dimension of “communications management.”
Stathakis outlined an overall reduction in his department’s staff since he came into office in November of 2008 to assure residents and board members that he was not adding a position, but replacing a retired employee with the new deputy.
During a board presentation, Stathakis said that when he took office, the supervisor’s staff earned $103,882 annually in total salaries between two assistants, which was reduced to $59,000 in January of 2009.
“During these past few months, I’ve got by using a temporary employee,” Stathakis said. “This new full-time position would be deputy supervisor, but I want to re-emphasize I am not adding a Social Security number to the roll.
“I am replacing a Social Security number. I also want to emphasize I will continue to implement the downsizing change I made in January 2009, which is to operate my office not with two employees, but just one employee.”
The compensation for the deputy supervisor, which was approved by the Board of Trustees 6-1 at its Feb. 19 meeting, will see the position pay a $52,000 annual salary for the remainder of Stathakis’ term in office.
Unlike the administrative assistant position, the deputy supervisor will be non-union but receive benefits accorded general Shelby Township supervisory employees, including two weeks vacation, health care coverage, life insurance, long-term disability and a 401(a) defined contribution retirement plan.
Stathakis said that the deputy position would not receive short-term disability, though.
“I believe this new position with larger duties and higher qualifications will better serve the current needs of our residents,” Stathakis said.
“My duties will not change,” Stathakis added. “My schedule will not change, and my responsibilities will not change. We’re just hoping this position can do more.”
According to Stathakis, added responsibilities for the deputy supervisor will focus mainly on improved communications by “developing, implementing and managing a communications plan to increase communication with Shelby Township residents and promote awareness and transparency”; “working independently with township department directors to identify opportunities for township business and develop specific content to convey their message”; and “assisting township departments to research, explore and cultivate grant-funding opportunities.”
To ensure applicants are up to the challenge, the position requires a bachelor’s degree in public administration, business management or a related field and four years experience in communication management.
The administrative assistant position required a high school diploma or equivalency and three years of office experience.
According to state law, township supervisors are allowed to appoint a deputy supervisor who serves “at the pleasure” of the supervisor.
The same law stipulates that township clerks and treasurers must appoint deputies to perform their duties, if they are not able to.
Currently, Shelby Township Deputy Clerk Brian Fairbrother earns $55,000 annually, and Deputy Treasurer Barb Bulic serves in an unpaid capacity.
“Clinton Township has one. Harrison Township has one. Most townships have deputy supervisors,” Trustee Paul Viar said.
The move was historic, in that it paved the way for Shelby Township to have a deputy supervisor for the first time.
Previously, there had been “assistants to the supervisor” in excess of the administrative assistant staff, but no official deputy supervisor.
While most of the board lauded the cost savings and increased responsibilities and requisites for the position, Trustee Nick Nightingale remained steadfast against it and was the lone no vote against the proposed compensation package, labeling it as “adding to the political fat.”
“This position was not budgeted in the supervisor office through 2013,” Nightingale said. “The supervisor’s office is budgeted for an administrative secretary in the amount of $55,000 with benefits.
“I can say that I like the fact the supervisor has a courteous, professional, diligent secretary answering the phones and relaying messages to the supervisor.”
Stathakis said that the issue of placing a deputy supervisor within his department is not political and that it addresses a need for improved communications with residents and the private sector.
“If that person wants to run as supervisor or state representative or senator, that’s up to him or her, but first that person has to get the job done right here in this office,” Stathakis said when asked if the position was a political appointment to groom his eventual successor as supervisor. “This position is about better communication to the residents and more transparency.”
The issue of the deputy supervisor’s compensation was on the agenda for the Feb. 5 board meeting, but it was removed just prior to that meeting.
Stathakis placed the item on the Feb. 19 agenda with one change, as the pay was increased from $49,200 to $52,000.
“We have two (salary) tiers — the top tier and the new tier,” Stathakis said of why he changed the salary for the position. “The top tier are those employees which are already here and for a deputy supervisor position the salary would be $55,241 to $63,840.
“The range for the new tier was $49,717 to $56,911. Essentially, what I did was went a little lower than the midpoint for a new-tier hire. Midpoint was $53,314. I wanted to stay under the midpoint.”
The position is filled at the sole discretion and decision of Stathakis, and he said he hopes to begin conducting his interview and review process shortly to fill the position by early April.
“My goal is to have someone here by April 1,” Stathakis said. “I’ll be evaluating résumés.”
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