Board splits vote on contract for operators

FLINT TWP. — With expenses steadily climbing and revenues going down, two trustees balked at approving a union contact for the township’s police communication operators.

Township trustees Belenda Parker and Barb Vert dissented in the 5-2 vote on a contract approved by the majority of the township board.

“Trustee Vert and I have talked to you (supervisor Karyn Miller) several times about restructuring this department,” Parker said. “Had that been done, there would be a decrease for the budget.”

Miller said she had consulted Police Chief George Sippert on the pros and cons of having accomplished com-ops who perform duties that free up police officers to do other things. She said Parker and Vert could make their case again for the 2015 budget but at this point it is what it is.

Signing bonuses offered in the two-year contract were discussed at length.

The township employs three full-time co-ops who will be paid $500 signing bonuses and nine part-timers who will each get $250 bonuses.

The contract allows that either side can reopen negotiations in the second year, if so desired, Miller said.

Because signing bonuses were also provided in other union contracts this year, Miller said she sought to treat every employee equally.

“We have been fair with all our employees; what one gets the other gets,” she said.

Trustee Frank Kasle who has been very vocal about the township getting a better handle on its budget and affordability of contracts, said he was in favor of the com-op contract because the costs were reasonable.

“These com-op employees are the lowest paid in the township,” he said.

According to a job description posted on the township website, duties of comops include acting as a receptionist and a telephone operator for people coming to or calling the police station.

They also operate the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN), a statewide computerized information system and other police software. They maintain monthly uniform crime reporting statistics and file reports to Lansing for or through the LEIN system.

Com-ops are civilian employees in the police department who work rotating shifts including holidays and weekends.

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