Commission takes stand on employee purchase of time


IMLAY CITY — Despite having discussed the issue at a previous meeting after a request had been made to “purchase additional years” of service, the Imlay City Commission has taken a formal stand on the topic, voting to not allow city employees the opportunity to buy years.

However, the vote did not come without some dispute.

Commission member Barbara Yockey spoke on the issue, cautioning the city of potential future financial impact, if such requests are granted.

Yockey said depending on the city’s financial situation several years down the road, the city could potentially, “be on the hook” for a lot of money.

Yockey said she felt the commission would not, “be acting responsibly with the taxpayers money,” if the practice was allowed.

Representatives from Memphis-based Sage Creek Winery recently presented a business plan for an Imlay City location. The business and city are trying to work out a deal on property.

Mayor Joi Kempf agreed with Yockey, although they along with the rest of the commission stated how much they appreciate the hard, dedicated work of all city employees.

After further discussing the topic, the commission finally approved a motion to allow City Manager Craig Horton to sign a document with the city’s retirement company that states no city employee will be allowed to purchase additional years of service.

The vote passed by a 5-2 count with Yockey, Kempf, Ted Sadler, Bob Tanis and Shane Collison all voting yes and with Joe DeLuca and Al Ramirez voting no.

Prior to the vote, Ramirez voiced his opposition, saying he appreciates the dedication and time the employees give, and if the city could help them out with the purchase of a few years, they should. “I think it’s the right thing to do, to allow this,” Ramirez said.

An Imlay City police officer recently made a request to purchase a number of years towards his retirement, but was turned down by the commission.

In other commission news, saying things are “still moving forward in a positive direction,” Imlay City Manager Craig Horton feels it is just a matter of time before a deal is worked out between the city and Sage Creek Winery for the Memphis-based company to move their production to Imlay City.

“The attorneys are involved and both sides feel like we can get this done, so it is good for both of us,” Horton told the commission at their meeting last week.

The owners of Sage Creek Winery attended a commission meeting several weeks ago to make their pitch to come to Imlay City.

They have their eye on a three-building complex that included the former firehall and DPW buildings located just south of the police department.

Horton previously stated the city could sell the property to Sage Creek at a very low cost, something that would be good for the company and bring tax revenue to the city.

Horton had expected to get a deal done last month, but noted with the attorneys now involved, the process has been slowed and the two sides are working towards a fair and equitable deal for both groups.

Horton expects there will be a deal on the table for the commission agenda either at next week’s meeting or the following session, for them to act on.

The commission was also informed that the fire department has taken delivery on a new set of Jaws of Life for a total cost of over $42,000.

The new rescue tools were put to work shortly after arriving at the fire hall when firefighters responded to a motor vehicle accident that required the use of the life-saving equipment.

The commission went into closed session at the end of the meeting to further discuss negotiations with bargaining groups, including the police officers.

City Manager Horton has said the succession plan that had been presented by Chief Brett Selby, requesting two additional staff members, was put on hold until a new contract agreement is reached and to see what the financial impact would by on the city’s budget.

Chief Selby is expected back at a future meeting with additional, detailed information for commission members to review and consider.

The next commission meeting will be held Tuesday, June 20 at the city office building.