City Manager Reprimand, Density Adjustments, Park Projects On City Commission Agenda

Traverse City commissioners will consider issuing a formal reprimand tonight (Monday) to City Manager Marty Colburn for failing to follow the city charter on his recent dismissal from the city treasurer and for failing to seek advice from the city attorney prior to the decision. If accepted, the letter will be placed on Colburn’s personnel file and will require him to take several corrective actions over the coming weeks, including establishing a formal policy on how to deal with employee dismissals, providing a written and oral apology to the city attorney, and the Meet with the commissioners again in two to four months to review his progress and work performance.

Mayor Pro Tem Amy Shamroe and Commissioner Brian McGillivary drafted the reprimand after Commissioners met in a closed session with Colburn last week to discuss his handling of City Treasurer Kelli Martin’s recent resignation. The town charter requires five town commissioners to approve the hiring or dismissal of the town treasurer, but Colburn fired Martin for performance-related issues before receiving commission approval. City commissioners later voted to uphold the sacking, but the letter of reprimand censures Colburn for “failing to obey the mandates of the city charter” when he dismissed Martin and again when he appointed a provisional town treasurer without the commission’s approval.

The letter also states that Colburn failed to seek advice from City Attorney Lauren Trible-Laucht regarding compliance with the city charter, and neither Trible-Laucht nor “or any other qualified person regarding compliance with the city’s hiring and firing practices and guidelines aiming to seek advice ”. To minimize negative consequences or liabilities for the city. ”Colburn’s actions“ forced the city attorney to raise the matter with the city commission, as is her clear legal obligation, which has created tension and discord among city workers and the attention of the city Unnecessarily distracted employees and this body from important city affairs ”. it says in the letter.

The letter states that the Commissioners – who recently agreed to a 3 percent raise for Colburn following a positive performance review for last year – recognize Colburn’s “exemplary service and leadership to the city at a very difficult time in history.” The letter also notes that Colburn “has always led by example and has taken responsibility and acted responsibly to resolve the situation when the city made mistakes”. Commissioners expect Colburn to “approach this issue similarly,” the letter said, telling the city manager that “the process and procedures you followed on this case were flawed”.

Colburn will need to take several corrective actions in the coming weeks to mitigate the effects of the treasurer’s dismissal, if the reprimand is accepted. The city manager must meet with Trible-Laucht to ensure he “fully understands the charter and other labor laws”. He has to work with Trible-Laucht and the city’s HR director to develop a formal policy for dismissing a city employee. A joint meeting of all three department heads. The letter calls upon Colburn to apologize verbally and in writing to Trible-Laucht and apologize to city officials and take steps to “resolve any employee divisions or divisions that have arisen as a result of this situation.” Colburn will also need to work with the HR director to review the new hire onboarding process to help new hires transition and “understand the unique needs and culture of working in and for the city of Traverse City.” Colburn will have to meet with city commissioners again over the next two to four months to review his job performance and progress on the steps above.

The letter concludes by reiterating that the City Commissioners consider Colburn a “valued and trustworthy leader of our community” and appreciate his “cooperation, openness and willingness to take responsibility and promptly correct this matter”. It is also advised that the city “will not tolerate any form of retaliation” and encourages Colburn to “advise your team to refrain from any activity that may or appears to be retaliation for participating in the handling of this matter”. Failure to comply with any of the requirements of the warning letter can lead to further disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Shamroe tells The Ticker that the letter was “a reflection of the discussion that had been held with the Commission and Marty that was our choice based on what had happened.” Commissioners did not consider resignation to be an appropriate response given Colburn’s otherwise positive performance. With multiple seats on the city commission likely to be awarded in the November election, Shamroe says it will be up to the new commission “to meet with Marty and verify that the policy mentioned in the letter is being written and that the other issues are being addressed. “Colburn declined to comment on the letter, telling The Ticker,” We don’t normally comment on HR issues through the media. “

Also at the meeting of the city commission on Monday …
> Commissioners will launch a vote on October 18 on a proposal that will include multiple residential districts – R-9, R-15, and R-29, named for the number of units per acre that each district currently allows – would summarize a single new district called R-3. The new district would have no density restrictions, much like districts C-3 and C-4 of the city. Instead of regulating the number of units, the development would be regulated by parameters such as height limits, sealing limits and setbacks. The proposal was endorsed by the city planners and forwarded to the city planners for final approval to remove barriers to housing development and encourage more replenishment in neighborhoods.

> Several park-related topics are on the agenda tonight, including a request to hire consultancy Price-Lund for $ 12,000 in design services to improve Indian Woods Park. The city received a $ 50,000 government grant and an additional $ 62,000 from the Brown Bridge Trust Parks Improvement Fund for general improvements in the park, including replacing play equipment with a new structure that meets ADA and safety standards and the upper and lower levels of the park connect the park with a sidewalk or path, and add an improved picnic area and mountain slides. Commissioners will also consider allowing alcoholic beverages during approved events and rentals at Hickory Hills Lodge, a policy that would go into effect Oct. 14. as well as a proposal to remove city commissioners from the appeal process if an individual is denied a road-use permit or a parking and public land-use permit. Those denied a permit would instead appeal either to the city administrator or, where appropriate, to a competent court to “depoliticize” the appeal process by removing city officials from the equation.

> The commissioners will consider approving updated terms of contract with Trible-Laucht, which give the prosecutor five weeks of paid vacation instead of four weeks, as well as a flexible working arrangement that allows Trible-Laucht to partially work remotely and set hours for itself as long as she usually provides office hours 30 hours a week. The move follows a recent performance review by the Trible-Laucht commission, which is also due to receive an increase in its cost of living from December 1.

> Today’s meeting begins with the presentation of the Sara Hardy Humanitarian Award 2021 to Goodwill Industries Outreach Coordinator Ryan Hannon and the creators of 5Loaves 2 Fish, Bill and Michelle White. All three people are committed to helping the needy, with Hannon working as a passionate lawyer for people with homelessness and the whites working to help people with food insecurity. The Commissioners will also vote tonight to pass resolutions to make November Homelessness Awareness Month and December 21st the Homeless Day. December 21st marks the first day of winter every year and is the longest night of the year.

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