Oxford Village is taking steps to fill the manager position on a temporary basis.
Last week, council approved a series of motions designed to hopefully have someone in place on April 1.
March 31 is Manager Joe Young’s last day on the job he’s held since June 2004. Council voted 3-2 to terminate his employment contract at a special meeting Feb. 23.
No reason for the termination was given during or after that meeting, but one doesn’t have to be stated because Young’s contract defines him as an at-will employee who serves as the “sole pleasure” of council.
To help find a person to serve as acting manager, council formed a “temporary transition committee,” consisting of council President Sue Bossardet, councilwoman Maureen Helmuth, village Clerk Susan Nassar, village attorney Bob Davis and Young.
This committee was directed to meet and report back to council at the 6 p.m. March 14 regular village meeting.
Council also voted to contact the Michigan Municipal League and obtain a list of available people who could serve as acting manager. According to Davis, there’s currently 21 individuals on that list.
Davis reminded council the village charter dictates whenever there’s a vacancy in the manager position, it must “designate a qualified person” to perform those duties. The position cannot be filled, either permanently or temporarily, by a current council member nor can it be occupied by a former council member unless they have been out of office for at least two years, according to the charter.
Oxford Township Supervisor Bill Dunn, who is a village resident, told council that he and the township’s treasurer, Joe Ferrari, would be willing to help the municipality during this transition.
“Joe Ferrari, he was village manager here for a couple weeks, anyhow, back in 1999,” Dunn noted.
Davis was also directed by council in a 5-0 vote to draft a request for proposals for the village manager position based on the established employment contract and consistent with the job duties and obligations voted on by council, along with the village charter.
Toward the end of the meeting, Councilman Tom Kennis made it known that he respects the way Young has conducted himself since the vote to fire him.
“I just want to thank Joe for being so professional during this transition process,” he said. “I appreciate it.”
Councilman Erik Dolan commented on the public concerns he’s seen expressed via social media regarding some of the recent changes in the community.
In addition to Young’s firing, the village lost its 17-year police chief when Mike Neymanowski resigned and worked his last day Feb. 14. The village also lost its downtown development authority (DDA) director when Joe Frost voluntarily left his position in early February for a job with Oakland County.
Dolan acknowledged that although there has been “significant change” and that can be “troubling and frightening” to some people, council has matters “well in hand.”
“I have no doubt whatsoever that the appropriate personnel have been and will be put in positions necessary to further the advancement of this community and to improve the quality of life for the residents,” he said.
Mike Solwold, who’s served Oxford as a police officer since 1993 and been a part of the village department since its creation in 2000, was appointed acting/interim police chief by council on Feb. 14.
As for the DDA, its board interviewed three candidates for the executive director position on Monday night and offered the job to one of them (see story on Page 1).
Council has been “unable” to comment on some of the recent changes, such as Young’s termination, for legal reasons, Dolan explained.
“I’m sure most people can understand those concerns in our litigious society,” he said.
That being said, Dolan assured “these decisions are not made without significant thought going into them and a particular direction in mind.”