Rogers City to hire Hefele as city manager

ROGERS CITY – City council voted to hire Onaway City Manager Joe Hefele full time for Rogers City’s managerial position, and to keep exploring the concept of sharing the position between both cities.

Both decisions had a dissenting vote, with council member Ken Bielas voting “no” on hiring Hefele full-time and Mayor Pro Tem Gary Nowak voting “no” on continuing to explore the shared position. It’s indicative of the split in opinion on whether Rogers City should try to save some money by sharing Hefele with its neighbor to the west.

And the split isn’t just in city council. City resident Rachel Goodstein told council she believes the city manager has too many duties for anything but a full-time employee. Former city clerk and Treasurer Theresa Heinzel told them much the same during a workshop held before the meeting to discuss the idea.

“I appreciate the comments Ms. Goldstein gave,” Mayor Tom Sobeck said, adding he also appreciated Heinzel’s and those in an email who also opposed the idea. “By the same token, I’ve had a number of people say to me, ‘It’s an interesting concept, we should look into it.'”

Next, Sobeck and others must determine if its feasible, he said. He hopes to have a decision by the end of the month, but the city isn’t obligated to a part-time manager by its vote Tuesday to explore the idea. City Attorney Mike Vogler has been authorized to begin negotiations with Hefele, but for a full-time position. Other issues that need to be determined will take time to find answers, like pension requirements.

“Council’s obligation is to explore the opportunity, and to come to a conclusion fairly quickly that it’s a good idea, or it’s not,” Sobeck said.

Nowak voted no on continuing to explore sharing the position because he agrees a full-time manager is needed. He supports hiring Hefele full-time and voted as such, but believes he should be available to the city at all hours of the day and week. It’s an important position, and Hefele could burn himself out trying to handle it for both cities.

“You can’t serve two masters,” he said.

During the workshop council member A.J. Przybyla said he believes city department heads can handle many of the day-to-day issues in the city. Plus, Rogers City is dealing with a much smaller tax base. A shared position wouldn’t need to be a long-term deal, and could be re-evaluated to ensure it’s working.

In other business:

* council will meet next on March 17 at 7 p.m., a day ahead of their typical meeting date.

* council voted to allow for a Flag Day parade on June 14. Rogers City Masons member Dave Nadolsky brought the request before council, explaining it’s one part of a patriotic celebration to include music, food, volleyball and many other events.

* council voted to approve Fat Hogs Fishing Frenzy’s Ladies Classic fishing tournament, at the city marina July 26. July 27 is the alternate date in case of poor weather.

* council also heard from Bruce Kutter, Michigan Qualifications Based Selection Coalition facilitator and board member. He explained to them the benefits of factoring in qualifications, not just bid price, when considering bids from engineering firms that would work with the city on a repeat basis. It would take the city about three weeks to go through its own QBS process.