CORUNNA — The Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners is expected to vote today on a proposal to change the position of county emergency manager from part to full time.
At the panel’s Committee of the Whole meeting Wednesday, commissioners voted 6-1 to advance a motion to make the position full time with a salary of $68,287, plus regular county benefits, but no pension or payout of unused vacation or sick time upon leaving the position.
Commissioner Marlene Webster voted against the move, saying the board was setting a precedent if it decided to treat one county employee differently from the rest.
“Saying he is somehow exceptional and should be treated as exceptional, it’s insulting to other county employees who work evenings and weekends,” she said. “It’s not fair to the other employees.”
Trent Atkins, the emergency manager for the past two years, currently earns $50,000 per year for a three-day work week. The county pays 63 percent of the salary, with 37 percent provided by a Michigan Emergency Management Program grant.
Commissioners have discussed the importance of the position to the safety of county residents. On Wednesday, some noted many emergency manager positions in other Michigan counties are full time.
They have praised Atkins’ strong performance for Shiawassee County, including his work in the aftermath of the March 14 tornadoes.
“He certainly performed well when we had a tornado,” Commissioner John Plowman said Wednesday.
Commissioners dropped an earlier proposal that included paying the emergency manager position $80,000 a year and increasing vacation time to 25 days a year, the vacation rate for 16-year county employees.
Olga Quick, speaking on behalf of the Probate Court Circuit Court Family Division Employees Association, told commissioners they would set a precedent if they paid the position above the county wage scale and provided more vacation days than those earned by service to the county.
Commissioners earlier this year discussed moving Atkins from part to full time but tabled the proposal for further consideration.
Atkins’ past experience includes working as the director of emergency/risk management and security at the Lansing Board of Water and Light for three years, and before that as the assistant fire chief for the Lansing Fire Department for two years.
Previously, Atkins held multiple positions in similar fields, including 25 years with the Lansing Fire Department.
In his previous positions, Atkins helped Lansing rebuild following such disasters as a tornado in 2008 and an ice storm in 2013.
In July 2017, he replaced former emergency management coordinator Richard Warner, who left for a position in Muskegon.