Clerk requests increases due to extra workload

ALPENA – Over the years the duties, responsibilities and overall workload has increased significantly in the Alpena County Clerk’s Office. In addition to being in control of the county’s payroll and working with the commissioners, the office is now the hub of all county business and activity.

As a result Clerk Bonnie Friedrichs gave a presentation on Tuesday, complete with props, to the Alpena County Finance Committee to show why an increase in hours for the office staff and raises next year are needed.

Using stones labeled in black marker, Friedrichs broke down the staff’s responsibilities and workload. She said besides handing many of the county’s business transactions, the office also is in charge of elections, gun permits, wedding licenses, death certificates, and Freedom of Information Act requests, to name a few. She said there also are side projects in the process of being done, such as transferring the paper copy data into electronic form, but they have fallen behind schedule due to the amount of work and limited hours the office staff can work.

“Typically the office has been the administrative office and the keeper of legal and important documents. This has held true, but to a larger degree, as laws, requirements and duties have increased the level of knowledge and responsibility has increased,” Friedrichs said. “The county clerks employees are no longer clerical assistants. They have become legal assistants and legal secretaries, legal court clerks, human resource assistants and election assistants. I am asking they be realigned in their pay scale and hours, which we can discuss during budget or union negotiations.”

After Friedrichs’ presentation, which she also did previously for the personnel committee, Commissioner Lyle VanWormer made a motion to increase the employees’ hours from 35 to 37.5 a week for the remainder of 2013. VanWormer said because he is the finance chair and has been a commissioner for years, he has seen first hand the amount of work the office has and the knowledge the staff has pertaining to county business. He said when you look at the amount of money the county makes from the services the office provides, you can see it is very busy.

“Pretty much anything related to the county ends up in her office it seems,” VanWormer said. “The revenue clearly shows almost everything is being funneled into the clerk’s office. The people that work in there do an excellent job and know what they need to do and stay current on the laws and the changes to the laws. When you actually see a list of everything they have to be good at doing, it’s really mind boggling.”

Although Friedrichs’ request passed unanimously, with Commissioners Jeff Kowalski and Bob Adrian voting with VanWormer, the final determination will be in the hands of the full board of commissioners, which meeting on Sept. 26 at 1 p.m. in the Howard Male Conference Room in the county annex building.

In other business:

  • the committee approved spending $7,000 from the sheriff department’s budget for equipment needed on the new boat obtained by the department.
  • VanWormer said the county has applied for a wetlands permit for a proposed roadway at the airport. He said the cost to file for the permit was only $400.
  • the committee recommended an anonymous donor be allowed to make upgrades to the Leon Hickey Baseball Field at the Alpena County Fairgrounds. The infield, fences and dugout will be renovated and converted into a softball field.
  • the committee recommended entering into a service contract that will allow the Huron Humane Society to take over animal control operations.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at