Some Wexford commissioners voice displeasure over not being able to participate in meeting virtually

Although all nine Wexford County Board of Commissioners were present at Wednesday\'s meeting, only five were able to vote and formally participate in the meeting after a March 31 amendment to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Gathering and Face Mask Order.

CADILLAC — Although all nine Wexford County Board of Commissioners were present at Wednesday's meeting, only five were able to vote.

Per the March 31 Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Gathering and Face Mask Order Amendment, the public may participate in person in government meetings if social distancing guidelines are followed. That also meant the virtual meetings no longer were an option of the Open Meetings Act unless certain action was taken such as a municipality declaring a state of emergency.

What that meant Wednesday is the four commissioners who attended the meeting via Zoom, Joe Hurlburt, Michael Musta, Julie Theobald and Brian Potter, were not able to vote on any action item.

At the end of the meeting, Hurlburt, Musta and Theobald all spoke about their displeasure of not being able to formally participate despite being present at the meeting albeit virtually.

As for the county business, the five commissioners present at the meeting, Ben Townsend, Mike Bengelink, Mike Bush, Gary Taylor and Judy Nichols, voted 5-0 to approve reinstating the administrative analyst position in the equalization department.

According to information provided in the agenda packet, the equalization department was unable to get out in the field to do work due to COVID-19, which allowed the office to analyze the real estate market the best it could without doing field visits. Not wanting to have an inexperienced employee sitting with nothing to do, the position was removed from the employee roster, according to the agenda packet.

With the loss of the City Appraiser and the likelihood of having to hire someone with little-to-no experience and train them in-house, it was determined to refill the analyst's position, too. With the commissioners' approval, the plan is to post the position around the second week of May and to have someone in place by June 1.

The commissioners also voted 5-0 to approve the purchase of computer upgrades for the register of deeds office.

According to information provided in the agenda packet, computers need to be updated every five years, per recommendation from I.T. Right. The register of deeds is overdue for those upgrades and had one computer go down, which had to be replaced. The plan is to get the other eight computers replaced before it happens again. The estimated cost, which is budgeted for in the capital equipment fund, is roughly $6,600.

During board comments, Theobald announced she was not planning on seeking re-election when her current term, which started on Jan. 1, expires. 

Cadillac News

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