Dispute continues over clerk’s office vacancy in Flint Township

FLINT TWP. — A dispute over whether to fill a vacant position in the Flint Township Clerk’s office boiled over into last Monday’s Flint Township Board of Trustees meeting.

At the March 15 meeting, Flint Township Clerk Kathy Funk attempted to bring back a motion to fill a vacant administrative assistant position in her department. Supervisor Karyn Miller removed Funk’s item from the agenda, saying that the township board will not be taking up the action item again.

“This wasn’t brought before the board in an appropriate way,” Miller said. “This is old business, not new business. This action item has been brought up four times: once on Jan. 4, and it failed 4-3. Then it was brought up on Jan. 25, and it failed, 4-3. A motion was then made to not fill the vacant clerical position, and that passed by a 4-3 vote.

“We’re not bringing it (Funk’s request) back,” Miller added. “The minutes that were approved at our last meeting state that we’re not going to fill it (the open position).”

In response, Funk said that she has considered filing a charge of discrimination against the township, alleging that the township board is not allowing her to fill the vacant position because she is a woman.

“If I was a male department head, then this position would be filled, as it (a clerical position) was filled for the police department in the fall and when Stuart Worthing (the township’s chief building official) brought forth (a request) to have an assistant in May 2019,” said Funk. “We approved for him in June 2020 to have an assistant based on ‘COVID business.’ If I was a male, there would not be a question about this.”

Flushing City Clerk Michelle King, formerly a Flint Township employee for 11 years, spoke on Funk’s behalf during public comment and criticized the township board for not filling the budgeted vacant position.

“When I worked at Flint Township, the township clerk’s office consisted of the clerk, a fulltime deputy, a fulltime secretary, a fulltime elections specialist and a part-time elections specialist,” said King. “Assuming nothing has changed, the department is still responsible for the same amount of work as it did before.

“It’s unreasonable to expect two people to handle all the clerk’s department duties, which are arguably the most comprehensive and diverse duties of all township offices,” King continued. “And it shows your lack of understanding of the complexity of work in the clerk’s office.”

King said that the township is setting a double standard by filling clerical positions at some departments but choosing not to fill Funk’s administrative assistant vacancy.

“To me, this smacks of blatant and flagrant sexism, and you should be ashamed of yourselves, especially a board made up of a majority of women,” she said. “Instead of insinuating that (Funk) is weak and overwhelmed, and that you’re doing her a favor by taking away some of her duties, you should be setting her up for success.”

Miller said that her stance on not filling the vacant position in Funk’s office is based solely on budgetary constraints, which she said are impacting every department.

“As far as our budget is concerned, we have another year of deficit by over a $1 million,” she said. “Our police department used to have 45 employees, now we’re down to 40 this year. Our fire department used to be budgeted for 14 (employees), now we’re only budgeted for 10. Our accounting department is down from six employees to four …the building department and the supervisor’s office have only 50 percent of the employees we used to have. All departments have lost employees. It’s not just one department.”

Funk’s previous attempt to fill the administrative assistant position at the Jan. 25 meeting was defeated by a 4-3 vote. Miller, Trustee Carol Pfaff Dahl, Trustee Barb Vert and Treasurer Lisa Anderson voted against the motion, while Funk, Trustee Tom Klee and Trustee Debbe Campbell voted in favor of it.