2018-02-08 / Front Page

Controller resigns, questions asked

By Tanya Terry
810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com

BURTON — Rik Hayman, chief of staff for Mayor Paula Zelenko, announced at the Feb. 5 city council meeting former Burton controller Ginger Burke-Miller had resigned.

Hayman thanked Burke- Miller for her service to the city, and Council President Steve Heffner said Burke- Miller had done a very good job.

However, the resignation raised questions from Councilman Danny Wells. Wells suggested the city look into other matters.

“The controller submitted a resignation this morning at 9:09, effective at 9:09 a.m., effective immediately,” Hayman said. “We’re posting the position and working on filling it as soon as possible.”

Councilman Vaughn Smith asked Hayman if he remembered saying he would talk to Burke-Miller and have a finance committee meeting. Hayman said he did remember discussing such a meeting, and with what had happened they may have to rethink the timing of the meeting. He said, however, the administration was willing to have the meeting when Smith felt it was necessary.

Wells asked Hayman if Burke-Miller gave a reason for leaving abruptly and asked if she had taken a job elsewhere.

“She didn’t mention anything about having another job,” Hayman said. “She did submit a letter of resignation, and I don’t have it with me. To be honest with you, I really feel uncomfortable with discussing too much of that in public at this point. There is a letter on my desk.”

Heffner asked if the council could get a copy of the letter.

Hayman said he was not sure, but figured the letter may be public record once the mayor signed off on it.

Heffner asked Amanda Doyle, the city attorney, if there was any reason the council could not have a copy of the letter.

“I think if it’s essentially just a resignation letter, you would have access to it,” Doyle said.

Heffner asked if they could get copies before they left the meeting, to which Hayman said he didn’t know why not.

Wells asked Hayman how long Burke- Miller had been employed for the city, to which Hayman said he believed was about seven years. Wells confirmed with Hayman Burke-Miller had enough time in to draw a small pension from the city. With Burke-Miller’s union, she became vested in her pension plan after six years of work.

“I just want to point out, that’s part of our pension problem,” Wells said. “We’re going to have to look at that very closely making changes.”

Wells said the city had changed its healthcare, thankfully. When city employees turn 65 they no longer have city healthcare in addition to Medicare.

“Every year we don’t get the pension fixed, we have less money to run the city with,” Smith said.

Council Vice President Duane Haskins said Burke-Miller had also purchased five additional years of pension. Smith said this was purchased for $48,000 through Burke-Miller’s contract.

Wells said Haskins always mentions the importance of hiring people from Burton.

“I think we’ve really got to look at that, too,” Wells said. “If we’ve got someone here from the city of Burton, I think they’re less likely to leave, or if they do leave and they stay in Burton at least part of that money will stay in the communities.”

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