By Tony Wittkowski | City Reporter | The Times Herald
MARINE CITY – A proposal to combine the jobs of Marine City police chief and city manager is meeting with some resistance from residents.
Lisa Hendrick, Marine City commissioner, said she heard from several business owners about a petition opposing Police Chief Don Tillery taking over the city manager job, but is unaware of who started it. She said the community seems to be against “this whole deal.”
“People still don’t think things are running properly,” Hendrick said. “They still don’t feel that’s the right fit for the community.”
John Gabor, the city’s current manager, is leaving at the end of January to be deputy city manager and treasurer in Hamtramck.
Gabor proposed the job of city manager be combined with that of police chief.
“It’s been done in other cities,” he said. “It is one option the board was looking at. There isn’t any reason why (Tillery) couldn’t.”
Hendrick said she expects a lot of residents to be at the Thursday meeting, where she plans to go along with what the constituents want.
“I would hope the people come and do voice their concerns and let the board hear what they have to say,” she said. “I think it’s good to take a look at what’s available. If that means we go out and search or Don puts in an interview with all the others, that’s fine.”
Hendrick said she does not know if the commission will consolidate the two positions if a large number of residents are opposed.
Once Gabor is gone, the commission has 90 days to fill the position, Hendrick said. The city also will have to pick a temporary manager until the search and interview process is completed.
Marine City Mayor Raymond Skotarczyk hasn’t heard about a petition to try to block the appointment of Tillery, but said it wouldn’t surprise him if there was one.
Skotarczyk said there is a large group of residents unhappy with Tillery because of “Wallygate,” where a decision was made by city officials and Tillery in 2010 to fire Marine City police officer Wally Reichle.
“He didn’t win any friends when that happened,” Skotarczyk said of the incident. “I expected for that group to get vocal. It’s one of those hot-button type of issues. I’ve had people from the business community say they are not in favor of combining the two jobs.
“My recommendation is we post the job and do some interviews and see what kind of candidates are out there.”
If the positions are not combined, Skotarczyk said a job search could take a couple of months.
Kathy Vertin, owner of the Snug Theatre, said the reason residents might be opposed to the idea is not because of Tillery.
“I think the concern is combining the manager and police chief position,” Vertin said. “I don’t think anyone here has anything against him at all.”
Tillery declined to comment.
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Jan. 13, 2015)