By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – The city’s administrator will soon oversee the operations of the city’s Municipal Services Department.
In a 4-2 vote Monday, councilors moved to accept a resolution introduced by Councilman James DeSana to add Wyandotte Municipal Services oversight to City Administrator Todd Drysdale’s job functions. Councilors Sheri Sutherby-Fricke and Leonard Sabuda dissented.
For the additional functions, Drysdale will be paid an additional $1,000 a month, to be divided among the department’s electric, water and cable funds.
DeSana credited the move to a lack of readily-available information from WMS about its financial affairs as well as recent increased staffing levels, increased employee compensation and increased pay rates to customers.
Drysdale is to oversee hiring, compensation, collective bargaining agreement negotiations, rate increases and debt issuance.
At a May 7 meeting, WMS representatives announced cable rate hikes to overcome a $1.6 million deficit in that fund.
“I just felt any business doesn’t wait for the end of the year to find out they are in debt,” DeSana said. “You know if you’re doing your homework on a monthly basis. If we’re going to be in the business, let’s get in the business and … run it like a business.”
Drysdale agreed that it “has been a challenge” to get information necessary to provide accurate financial reporting and said he would be “amenable” to the move.
But Sabuda disagreed, saying the council could visit WMS to glean information any time they wanted. He also took exception to the scheduling of the resolution, two days before a meeting the council had scheduled with the WMS commission to discuss financial issues.
“Why was this so quickly brought on to the agenda without expressing these concerns to Municipal Service so maybe they could give some answers?” he asked. “That meeting was supposed to clear the situation with regards to our differences.”
WMS Commissioner James Figurski disagreed with the alleged lack of communication between the department and the city.
“Mr. DeSana’s letters — and he writes them quite often — they always get responded to,” Figurski said. “Maybe he doesn’t like the responses, but he always gets them.”
He also said the $1.6 million deficit was a conscious decision of the commission.
“We were aware that we were putting a rate plan in place that requires us to play some catch up,” he said, “that we were going to essentially be running in the red for a little bit. We also knew where the rate increases were coming in the future to bring us back into the black.”