FLINT TWP. — Favoritism and nepotism were words used to describe the township board’s decision to hire Paul Nebraski as a full-time utility two clerical worker.
He already has been working parttime for the township and is married to Deb Nebraski, an assistant to township supervisor Karyn Miller since November 2012.
Trustees Barb Vert and Belenda Parker in recent months have consistently voted against board decisions to grant pay raises to all employees and other budget increases. Township finances faced a serious shortage before township voters approved a Public Safety Millage in November 2014 that boosted revenues.
This week, Vert and Parker were again the hold-outs in a 4-2 board decision to hire Paul Nebraski for a utility two clerical position which minimally pays about $12 per hour with gradual longevity increases.
Vert called the hiring “a waste of money.”
“We are creating a new position,’” she said “It is a useless position and I was told (it) would never be filled.”
The utility worker job description includes a variety of maintenance, repair and errand duties at the township hall, fire station one and sometimes at the senior citizens center. The 35-hours-a-week position came open about two years ago when a former employee retired.
In February 2014, the board voted to fill the position by promoting to full-time Sandy Pettigrew, a part-time worker at the police station. Under that arrangement, Pettigrew was to work 30 hours a week at the police station and five hours at the township hall.
It was pitched as a cost saver but even back then Vert and Parker cast dissenting votes in the 5-2 board decision to promote Pettigrew. Vert said then that she did not believe Pettigrew would be able to handle both jobs. She asked how hiring Nebraski would affect Pettigrew’s job description now that she will be working full-time only at the the police station.
Supervisor Karyn Miller responded that they tried making Pettigrew’s split duties work but it did not. Clerk Kim Courts said she spends too much time running to Sam’s Club for supplies and other errands that Nebraski now will be doing.
Assistant Fire Chief Mike Burkley said that a worker is needed for fire station one which has some maintenance and cleaning issues.
Miller also noted that Nebraski, who has skilled trades experience, has occasionally been called to do work at the senior center.
Vert called Nebraski “a very nice guy” and said she has “nothing against him personally.” Her objection is to the process. “it is nepotism,” she said. “There is no need for this position to be filled. It was already filled by the lady at the police department so they are creating a new position and I don’t get it.”
Miller said that the township had about 100 employees when she took office in 2008 and now staffing is down to about 70.
Parker objected to hiring Nebraski because she believes the township does not handle full-time hiring fairly. The township consistently brings on part-time employees, which does not require full board approval. Those employees then get preferential treatment for in-house job postings when full-time jobs open.
“No one outside is given an opportunity to apply for these positions,” Parker said.
“Nothing against Mr. Nebraski,” she added. “He is already working here and that did not come before this board.”
Miller responded that the board has at times posted jobs publicly and conducted testing before hiring. She noted that the township’s Policy and Procedure manual only requires that full-time jobs come before the board for approval but does not apply to part-time hires.
Beyond compliance with union labor agreements, the board is not obligated to post jobs publicly, she said.
“I think it is a smart thing to have someone work here to see what work ethic they have (before being hired permanently), she said.
She noted that Pam Luna, director of the senior center, who “is doing a great job” was promoted from part time to full time by the senior center board with no input from the township board. Vert serves as an advisor on the senior center board.
Parker responded that the senior center has an autonomous board and different bylaws.
Vert said she has several times requested revisions of the township’s personnel policy procedures but never received it. A change that needs to be made is one requiring full board approval of all hiring decisions, she said.
She also said she has suggested several times the township use Michigan Works to advertise job openings because a lot of people are looking for work.