COMMISSIONER JEFF BARTZ was unanimously elected by his fellow commissioners as chairman of the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, Jan. 3. Bartz is beginning his sixth year on the board, and he previously served as chairman in 2014. He takes over for Jeremy Root, who served as chairman for one year. Brandon Marks will take Mike Bruff’s place as the vice chairman.
(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)
by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
The Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners elected committee members, set the meeting schedule for the upcoming year and briefly discussed plans for 2018 during its annual organizational meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 3. The board’s first week of monthly meetings kicks off Monday, Jan. 8, and the commissioners plan to spend a day visiting county offices and meeting employees on Thursday, Jan. 18.
The commissioners traditionally meet the second full week of every month, with meetings beginning at 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday, at the Surbeck Building in downtown Corunna. That schedule will continue in 2018, though the February (Feb. 5 through 8) and November (Nov. 5 through 8) meetings have been changed to accommodate the commissioners’ schedules.
Shortly after taking his seat as chairman on Jan. 3, Bartz read his “short list” of priorities for 2018. At the top of that list is implementing the recently completed wage study in the very near future. Bartz shared that he hopes the commissioners will seriously discuss hiring a county coordinator, and he stressed the importance of hiring a board secretary.
The Shiawassee Medical Care Facility on Norton Street in Corunna also made the list. It will be vacated on Wednesday, Jan. 17, and the county will then have until Feb. 1 to clear the building before ownership of the property reverts to the city of Corunna. The board consensus was to give county department heads the first chance at claiming the county-owned office furniture, electronics and medical equipment that will be left in the building when it is vacated. Anything left in the building after Feb. 1 will become the property of the city of Corunna.
Since the commissioners are in their second year together following the 2016 election, most of the board and committee representatives will remain the same as in 2017. However, Jeff Bartz will replace Jeremy Root as the board’s chairman, and Brandon Marks will take over as vice chairman for Mike Bruff. Both were unanimously elected to their respective positions by their peers.
The meeting was not without a bit of controversy, as Bartz announced that Bruff would be replaced on the Shiawassee County Planning Commission by Dan McMaster. Both were elected in 2016, and Bruff has been the board’s planning commission representative for the past year. During that time, the planning commission has worked to adjust the county’s ordinances regarding wind energy, a divisive issue that has required quite a lot of research by commission members. Bruff was expectedly disappointed and confused by the decision.
“First of all, I support Jeff and the decision he made; he is a good man,” Bruff said after the meeting. “I also don’t believe he came to this decision on his own. It seems like petty politics, and I am not a fan of that. I’ve been in politics for a long time, and that is not how I operate. I did not see this coming at all.
“This move was completely unnecessary,” Bruff continued. “I don’t understand the timing at all. There has been a lot of time invested by myself and the other planning commission members, and we have made a lot of progress together. Now, Dan is certainly qualified, and I believe he will do a good job, but with as much time as we have spent researching and discussing wind energy over the past year, to replace me with a commissioner who has not been a part of the process at all makes absolutely no sense. It bothers me that I will not get to finish the job I started, but I will continue to listen to my constituents and serve my district and county.”