(Independent File Photo/Graham Sturgeon)
by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
The Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners dropped an agenda item from their Thursday, June 13 meeting that would have made the county’s emergency manager, Trent Atkins, a full-time salaried employee. The commissioners voted on Wednesday, June 12, by a six to one margin, to move the agenda item to their Thursday meeting, but Atkins asked board chair Jeremy Root to remove the position change from the June 13 agenda.
Atkins, the director of the county’s Emergency Management/Homeland Security department, earns $49,500 per year as a part-time employee. The full-time position would have increased Atkins’ salary to $68,287. Commissioner Brandon Marks, the board’s vice chairman, is in favor of increasing the county’s commitment to Atkins and warns that other agencies across the state have shown interest in acquiring Atkins, who has two decades of incident/emergency/risk management experience.
“When I joined the board in 2016, I was completely against having a full-time emergency manager; mostly because I did not think Rich Warner was very good at his job,” explained Marks. “I remained staunchly in the part-time camp until Trent Atkins came along. He is amazing at what he does and we are lucky to have him. Counties all over the state wish they had someone of Trent’s caliber.
“Trent has been getting offers from the Detroit area that would double and even triple his salary, so we wanted to increase his salary to avoid losing him,” continued Marks. “The best we could do was a little under $70,000, which does not come close to what Trent is being offered elsewhere, so he requested that we remove the position change from consideration.”
Marks also clarified another vote by the board on June 12 that denied Clerk Caroline Wilson’s request for an additional part-time employee. The board voted, six to one, to not move the item to its June 13 agenda. Marks clarified that he and the majority of the board agree that the Clerk’s Office is short-staffed, and that he would have supported an amended staffing request.
“The only reason I voted against Caroline’s request to hire a part-time employee is because the position would have been funded out of her office’s CPL fund,” shared Marks. “The CPL fund fluctuates, so it would have been irresponsible of us to count on that fund to support an employee’s salary. We are going to sit down and figure out a way to get Caroline the extra help she needs. We have the money for that; it’s just a matter of being responsible about it.”