DURAND — A Durand resident and a fellow city council member Monday both called on Brian Boggs to resign his city council seat, citing Boggs’ involvement in the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners’ recent COVID-19 “hazard pay” debacle. Boggs refused to consider the demand.
County commissioners drew sharp criticism following a July 15 meeting at which they discussed hazard pay bonuses in closed session, then paid themselves a combined $65,000 and tens of thousands more for other county officials — including $25,000 to Boggs, who serves as county coordinator — using federal relief funds.
“All of the people named and involved in the scandal at the county have tarnished the reputation of anything that they touch. There’s mistrust down to even the smallest of statements and actions,” Durand resident Sara Pettit said during public comment at Monday’s city council meeting. Mayor Pro Tem Matt Schaefer supported Pettit’s demand in his own comments.
Boggs previously admitted he worked with Commissioner Jeremy Root, R-District 5, and Commissioner John Plowman, R-District 7, to determine funding allocations for employees, though he did not set his own rate.
The controversy over the uneven disbursement of funds — most county employees only received $1,000 to $2,500 — led to an Open Meetings Act lawsuit in which a Genesee County judge ordered elected officials to pay back the hazard bonuses, and an opinion by Prosecutor Scott Koerner (who received money) that the pay was illegal.
“I’d like to ask councilman Brian Boggs to resign from the city council, knowing full well you can no longer serve as a respectable, honest, trustworthy and accountable representative of this city,” Pettit told council members Monday night. “Putting your pride and ego aside, if you truly care for the city of Durand and its constituents that you have taken an oath to represent, you will do the right thing and submit (your) resignation immediately.”
Boggs responded with a flat no.
“My position here is not consubstantial with my position and day job at the county. That’d be the same thing as saying that (council member) Jeff (Brands) should resign because of an architectural error (at his day job),” Boggs said. “I appreciate your comments, but I’m not going to resign. They’re not related.”
Monday’s demand marks the second time this year that Boggs has been asked to resign from the Durand City Council.
In March, Schaefer called for Boggs to step down, accusing the longtime city council member of violating his “oath to protect the citizens and employees of Durand” in voting no on a proposal to purchase equipment for the city’s fire department.
Schaefer at the time said an anonymous source had informed him that Boggs stated “in public and in front of multiple witnesses” he voted against the proposal to purchase Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) equipment for Durand’s fire department during a Jan. 4 meeting because he believes Schaefer is a “waste of space” and because the measure was something Schaefer supported.
Boggs brushed off the allegations as hearsay and declined to resign, reaffirming he voted no on the equipment purchase because no financial documentation was provided to the council ahead of the Jan. 4 meeting. Boggs subsequently called on Schaefer to resign, claiming Schaefer’s involvement as a member of the Durand Fire Department was a clear conflict of interest.
Schaefer clarified that before he decided to run for city council in 2020, he contacted council members, talked to the city’s fire chief and spoke with the city attorney to identify any potential conflicts he might have. He was told his role on the fire department did not constitute a conflict of interest.
Schaefer Monday supported Pettit’s call for Boggs to step down.
“If he doesn’t, then a recall is in order,” Schaefer said after the meeting. “Beyond the past ethical issues that have been raised, this was a step too far for many in our community and I think people want to see accountability, and I agree with them, as both a citizen and an elected official.”
Council member Rich Folaron said he didn’t believe Boggs should step down.
“What’s happening in the county really is separate from this,” Folaron said. “Brian’s been here for 20 years and I’ve worked with him for the last six. I’ve never had any issues where I thought he was doing anything illegal or wrong.”
Pettit said she plans to file a recall petition in the coming months and has already had “several people approach me and tell me that they are willing to help gather those signatures.”
Boggs was reelected to a four-year term on the council in November 2020. The earliest a recall petition can be filed is November, according to Pettit — one year after the start of his term.