Clerk, trustees spar over motion to fill vacant administrative assistant position

FLINT TWP. — An attempt to fill a vacant position in the Flint Township Clerk’s Department sparked a tense disagreement between Clerk Kathy Funk and several members of the township board at last Monday’s meeting.

On Jan. 25, Funk made a motion to hire former Flint Township employee Jacquie Forrest to fill a vacant administrative assistant position in her office. The township board voted 4-3 against filling the vacancy, with Supervisor Karyn Miller, Trustee Barb Vert, Treasurer Lisa Anderson and Trustee Carol Pfaff Dahl voting no and Funk, Trustee Tom Klee and Trustee Debbe Campbell voting yes.

Funk had previously brought up the budgeted vacancy at the Jan. 4 township board meeting, but trustees voted 4-3 against a motion to hire Forrest, with Miller, Vert, Pfaff Dahl and Anderson opposing the hiring at that time.

Funk said that the administrative assistant is an essential position in her office, involving tasks such as elections work, the compilation of board packets/ agendas and recording board minutes.

“The administrative assistant also serves as Secretary to the Board of Trustees,” Funk said. “This does not just involve making copies of board packets. This involves serving as secretary to each of the seven members of the board.

“By not filling this position, the board is slashing the clerk/elections staff by 50 percent,” Funk added. “This department cannot run efficiently with only one staff person.”

Forrest, who left the township in 2018 due to personal reasons, was hired on as a temporary election employee throughout the 2020 election cycle. Funk said that Forrest is highly qualified for the administrative assistant position, based on her experience with elections work and her software skills.

Funk also said that Forrest and Deputy Clerk Angie Thygesen’s teamwork during the election season helped to keep overtime to a minimum and balance more than 10,000 ballots back to the number reporting in the QVF (qualified voter file) each day.

After Funk’s motion was defeated at the Jan. 26 meeting, Trustee Vert made a motion for the board to leave the clerk’s administrative assistant position vacant.

Funk responded by saying that township board members who had opposed filling the vacancy (Miller, Vert, Anderson and Pfaff Dahl) were doing so to spite her personally.

“At the last meeting, you (Supervisor Miller) gave us a big talk about all of us getting along and working together for the next four years,” she said. “This is a time when we all need to work together. Obviously, this (motion) is not against Mrs. Forrest in any way…it’s against me.

“If this is your way to see me fail by slashing my department in half, your pettiness is really showing,” Funk continued.

In response to Funk’s statement, Miller and Vert said that their decision to not fill the vacancy was based only on budgetary concerns.

“This is nothing personal,” Vert said. “We are in a budget crisis. If we don’t solve this, layoffs are going to be next.”

Miller said that the board has the option to determine the size of township staff and that Funk could come to them at any time to ask for part-time help with elections.

Following that exchange, the board voted 4-3 to approve Vert’s motion.

Funk then made a motion to split budgeted wages for the administrative assistant’s position between herself and Thygesen until the vacancy is filled.

“Me and Deputy Clerk Thygesen will be taking on the work (of that position),” Funk said.

The township board voted 4-3 against that measure, with Klee and Campbell supporting Funk’s position.