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Bahorski picked to become assistant city manager

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published May 24, 2016

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STERLING HEIGHTS — Jeff Bahorski, who has handled Sterling Heights’ legal matters for years as city attorney, is about to become assistant city manager.

At the end of a May 17 Sterling Heights City Council meeting, City Manager Mark Vanderpool announced Bahorski’s appointment to assistant city manager, effective June 1.

In doing so, Bahorski, 55, from Sterling Heights, will be giving up his city attorney position as well as his job at the city’s law firm of choice, O’Reilly Rancilio P.C. He has been Sterling Heights’ official city attorney since 2004.

The City Council discussed and welcomed the appointment announcement, but did not vote on the matter at the meeting.

During the meeting, Vanderpool explained that Bahorski’s job switch comes amid a succession planning process that aims to keep the city administration orderly and on course amid a wave of retirements.

Walter Blessed has been the assistant city manager and human resources director, and he is expected to retire from the human resources director position in 2017. Vanderpool said Bahorski is also expected to officially take over the human resources director spot next year.

Vanderpool said the city is trying to give successors a year or so to overlap with the departing person so they can work side by side during the transition process, thus preventing turnover disruption.

Vanderpool said Bahorski has played an integral role in many city initiatives, including the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant’s reacquisition, the 2030 Visioning plan and labor agreement negotiations.

“Mr. Bahorski not only has excellent legal skills, but is creative, has an entrepreneurial spirit and is very passionate about the continued progression and success of this great city,” Vanderpool said.

Bahorski thanked Vanderpool and the City Council and explained that his city attorney role and his length of service to Sterling Heights have prepared him for this next stage in his career.

“I think for a lot of people this may be some shocking news or news that comes unexpected, but I think for anybody who knows the role that I’ve played in the city for the last five years, this is not a surprise,” Bahorski said. “This has been something that, through Mark and the council, I’ve been evolving into this role almost daily.

“And as Mark said, I’m very passionate. I love this city. I’ve raised my family here. ... The city has been very, very good to me.”

After Vanderpool’s and Bahorski’s comments, council members expressed their thoughts and congratulations. Mayor Pro Tem Joseph Romano said Bahorski has always had the city’s best interests at heart, and there is “no doubt — none whatsoever in my mind — that Jeff is going to continue to do the great job he has been doing for the city all these years.”

Mayor Michael Taylor talked about his own experiences as an attorney and what it feels like to represent a client and develop a working relationship.

“And when you get — when you have — that relationship like Jeff has had with Sterling Heights for 13 years … you really start to feel like you are an extension of the client and you are part of that company, or in this case, part of that city,” Taylor said, “and I know that’s how Jeff feels, and so this is a very good, natural fit for him.”

According to Sterling Heights Community Relations Director Bridget Doyle, Bahorski’s salary will be $132,000.

In an emailed statement sent after the meeting, Vanderpool commented about Blessed’s salary situation, as he will still be human resources director as Bahorski enters the assistant city manager role.

“Pursuant to the city’s succession plan, retired directors like Mr. Blessed were rehired for a defined period at a reduced salary and no benefits. In Mr. Blessed’s case, he is only receiving 67 percent of the normal salary,” Vanderpool said.

“This succession plan has saved the city approximately $500,000 annually. The cumulative savings realized by the city under the succession plan far exceeds the additional cost for hiring Mr. Blessed’s successor early.”

Sterling Heights officials said they expect O’Reilly Rancilio P.C. to supply a replacement city attorney candidate soon for council consideration.

Find out more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489.

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