What has happened to Van Buren Township in September and October has been called a “Turnover Tsunami” by Human Resource directors who say it is happening everywhere. VBT Human Resource[…]

What has happened to Van Buren Township in September and October has been called a “Turnover Tsunami” by Human Resource directors who say it is happening everywhere.
VBT Human Resource Director Nicole Sumpter said the loss of several employees at once is also being called “The Exodus.”
At the Oct. 19 regular meeting of the VBT Board of Trustees, the following departures were mentioned:
• Director of Public Services Matthew Best who started work at Pittsfield Township on Oct. 18;
• Communications Specialist Alyssa Albrecht who has resigned and started her new job;
• Water and Sewer Director James Taylor, who retired, and has come back to consult in that department and will stay until the new director is certified in this state; and
• Joel Sabin of Jackson who ran the township’s GIS for six years and resigned. He now is able to work from home.
Director Sumpter said the few reasons for these departures are work-life balance, flexibility, and better compensation.
“No matter the reasons, now we are competing to retain our current talent while filling these vacancy gaps,” Sumpter said.
She presented a list of wages that need to be amended in the budget and the board unanimously approved the following changes:
• Communications Specialist, increase to $65,000;
• Executive Assistant to Public Services Director, increase to $60,000;
• Director of Public Services, increase from $90,000 to $105,000;
• Director of Water and Sewer, increase from $90,000 to $105,000.
Also approved were new positions for growing departments:
• Executive Assistant to Community Services Director, $60,000;
• Internet Technology Desktop Technician, $50,000; and
• Treasury Specialist, $54,390.
“We’re not unique,” said Supervisor Kevin McNamara, regarding the turnover. He said baby boomers are retiring and there’s a lack of talent out there to replace them. And retaining talent is becoming extremely difficult.
“We’re building our Community Services Department and there’s only one person in that department and she needs help,” Supervisor McNamara said, referring to Elizabeth Renaud.
McNamara said the township is getting rid of contractors and if they want to stay competitive they have to pay higher salaries.
“It took forever to find the Water and Sewer Director,” he said, noting they had to raise the pay. “We wanted a good one and we got one.”
Todd Saums was introduced as the new Water and Sewer Director, who will start work Nov. 8.
Sumpter said Saums has an extensive background and started as a laborer, so he knows the work from the ground up.
She said he now is project manager for Northwestern District Water and Sewer in Ohio. He also previously served as the Parks Supervisor for the Village of Cary, Ohio. He holds an associate’s degree in Applied Science-Environmental Science, a bachelor’s degree in Management and Technology, and currently is working on his master’s degree in Public Administration at Ohio University.
Water and Sewer Consultant Taylor said he recommends Saums highly for this position. Taylor said they worked very hard to bring the township’s water and sewer to a good position. He said Saums brings experience to the job and, “He’s going to do a good job for you.”
Saums said he lives in Ohio, a quarter mile from the state line, and can see the border out his window. He said he is excited to get started, bring his skills forward, and continue into the future.
McNamara said Taylor will stay on to help while Saums gets his S-1 license from Michigan, but the state doesn’t test for them for two months. Saums currently has certification from Ohio.
Treasurer Sharry Budd said he is youthful and has a lot of spirit and will fill the big shoes left by Taylor.
The board also hired a new IT (information technology) person, John Brataniec, for network administration. He is a graduate of Baker College and spent nine years with the Allen Park schools. Sumpter said he would be a breath of fresh air for the township.
IT Director Steve Rankin said enthusiasm is a factor with Brataniec and Brataniec tells him a problem is fixed, rather than coming to tell him what the problem is. He said Brataniec has a never-give-up attitude and is youthful.
Also, at the one-hour-and-29-minute meeting, the board:
• Held a 12-minute public hearing on the 2021 Amended and 2022 Proposed General Fund Budgets, the 2021 Amended and 2022 Proposed Water/Sewer Budgets, and the 2021 Amended and 2022 Proposed for nine Special Revenue Funds Budgets;
• Approved a resolution for the 2021-26 annual Wayne County Right of Way Permits;
• Heard Director of Community Services Renaud give an informal, illustrated presentation of the schematic design of the interior floor plan of the proposed Community Center. There presently is 14,000 square feet of renovation and 16,000 square feet of addition. She said this is the estimating phase for detailed design development. She will bring the plan back to the board as it progresses. The plan is to order steel at the beginning of the year and go out for other bids later, with a late spring ground-breaking and then a half a year of construction;
• Approved the purchase and installation contract with American Interiors to complete the mailroom renovations for an amount not to exceed $25,660. Building and Grounds Superintendent Hugo Cardenas, Jr. said there is cabinetry and painting to be done. Clerk Leon Wright said the mailboxes won’t be behind the door anymore where you can get hit in the head. Cardenas said he was finishing the project for Best and he wants to make the township look good. Clerk Wright said everyone should be sure to notice the better-functioning election room that was upgraded with a donation from the former Civic Fund;
• Watched Best hold up the plaque presented to him by the township. He thanked the board for many things and they heaped praise upon him, as well. He also thanked Renaud, who he called “the most talented director in the world and she may be the greatest administrator in the universe. You are lucky to have her”; and
• Held a moment of silence in memory of Kevin Boyer who passed away Oct. 18. McNamara said Boyer was a 20-year resident of Van Buren Township and a past member of the Board of Review. He also retired as a Dearborn Fire Department Batallion Chief.

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