Planning department staff increasing as township grows

By: Thomas Franz | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published November 23, 2016


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — As Macomb Township continues to grow, so does the workload for employees in the township’s planning and engineering departments.

To accommodate those increases, Supervisor Janet Dunn requested to add three positions to the staff during a Board of Trustees meeting Nov. 9.

One of the positions, a planning director, will be filled by Patrick Meagher, who has already been serving as the township planning consultant on a part-time basis for the past three years.

Meagher has operated a consulting firm that most recently worked with six communities around Macomb Township, but he will give up that business to work full time.

“I had to make a big decision to get rid of my consulting firm and get more on board,” Meagher said. “I have a lot of respect for the folks working here, and it’s a great environment. It will be a nice change to focus on one community.”

Dunn said Meagher will have no shortage of work by accepting the position.

“I think it’s an excellent idea because of the fact ... we have the master plan coming up that has to be done every five years. Also, the parks and recreation plan, I definitely want to get that up and going to not miss out on any grants,” Dunn said.

Dunn was also granted permission by the board to recruit a planning supervisor to assist Meagher with administrative duties. That position has previously been included in the township’s collective bargaining agreement, but hasn’t been filled.

“With all of this work, things are really coming along as far as the recession. We’re totally out of that, and everyone wants everything yesterday, so I think this will free up Patrick (Meagher) to do the planning tasks if we can get this administrative stuff under control,” Dunn said.

To assist engineer Jim Van Tiflin, the township will also recruit an engineering manager to help with administrative work.

“Right now, Mr. Van Tiflin is answering his own phones, writing his own letters, doing his emails, and waiting on the counter,” Dunn said. “He’s a professional engineer, and he’s doing secretarial work, or something that could be done by another person. They have to be someone with a little more (knowledge) than a normal secretary, they need to be able to answer specific engineering plans.”

Dunn hopes that by adding a staff member to assist Van Tiflin, the township won’t have to spend as much on outside engineering consulting. Dunn said that through the first six months of 2016, the township spent $133,000 for about 1,400 hours’ worth of outside work.

“It’s gotten to the point where we’re busy, we’re just jammed with projects right now,” Dunn said.

Compensation for two of the three positions has yet to be determined. Township legal counsel will have to negotiate wages with a union for public employees since only the planning supervisor position has been a part of the township’s collective bargaining agreement.