Caro City Clerk Karen Snider is likely to be named interim Caro city manager at the city council’s next regular meeting next week.
The council’s personnel committee met Monday to discuss replacing Jared Olson, who unexpectedly resigned without giving the city notice last week.
The committee — consisting of councilmembers Mike Henry, Joe Greene, and Charlotte Kish — voted 3-0 to recommend Snider become interim manager for a three-month period. The entire Caro City Council still needs to approve the matter.
The council next meets Monday, Oct. 17. “I’ve been with the city of Caro since 2001, I’ve worked very, very closely with the managers from sun-up to sun-down, I know pretty much the job inside and out,” Snider said, adding that she is familiar with projects in the works and the city’s accounting practices.
“I know that the budget’s coming up, I’ve practically done the budget since I’ve been here,” Snider said. “Also, if you look in the city charter, I am the same as Jared, an administrative officer. “
Caro City Manager Jared Olson resigned Oct. 3 effective immediately, leaving stunned city council members asking him to “take some time” and reconsider before he walked out of the meeting.
The resignation came after Olson ran through his regular manager’s report, during which he updated councilmembers on various projects within the city of Caro, including street repairs and when leaf pickup is set to begin for the fall season.
Olson, hired in 2013, then dropped a bombshell on council.
“I would also ask the board to entertain my resignation effective immediately,” Olson said. “If someone would make that motion I will submit it to the city clerk.”
Several seconds of silence filled the room as councilmembers looked to each other in disbelief.
The council ultimately voted 6-1 to approve a motion to accept his resignation.
“I really think I could do that job for the six months,” Snider told the personnel committee Monday. “I’m not looking for long term, but I am very interested in the six months. It would probably be the least disruptive of any of the other people in the city you could appoint because my deputy would just become acting clerk until my position was up.”
Kish said she thought “that sounds very reasonable,” but Greene objected to the timeframe to which Snider alluded.
“I don’t like that long time period,” Greene said. “We can do a shorter time period and always extend it.
“That would encourage us to move faster on the other issue (of hiring a permanent city manager),” he said.
Henry said he was concerned with the amount of work that Snider would have to take on.
That workload is expected to include a significant amount of time devoted to a $1.2 million rum microdistillery/restaurant in downtown Caro that has drawn attention to the city after councilmembers voted 5-2 against recommending the state not issue the establishments liquor licenses due to close proximity to a church.
After an outpouring of support – including about 150 who were at the Oct. 3 meeting where Olson quit and Snider had to excuse herself after becoming overwhelmed with emotion – the council agreed to put the matter on the agenda for its next meeting.
Scott Romain, the developer spearheading the project, told The Advertiser last week that he was disappointed in the way city officials have handled his idea.
As of press time, the status of the project is unclear.
“My only concern is we have a lot of things on our plate, and I guess you have a lot of things on your plate, can we do both?” Henry asked Snider.
“I would not be doing both,” Snider said. “My deputy clerk would step up and help out with that position. That’s what a deputy’s for.”
“I would recommend a period of 60 or 90 days,” Greene said. “If it doesn’t work out we don’t have to extend it.”
Henry, however, said he thought the best option was to bring an outside manager in.
The Michigan Municipal League has a list of candidates who are able to fill in on an interim basis, Henry later explained to The Advertiser. Greene said the list consists of mostly retired city managers who are willing to fill in when needed.
“The interim manager doesn’t know anything we know so you want us to start all over again, and then start all over again?” Snider said.
Henry reiterated the amount of work that he foresees on the way that’s related to the microdistillery project, stating that the research will include working across numerous city departments to get all the right answers.
“I know what it takes to run this city, I’ve been here long enough to know, and I guess I feel really hurt that you made those comments like that Mike,” Snider said to Henry.
Henry shrugged and responded “that’s why I’m sitting in this position. That’s my opinion.”
Snider said she was confused by Henry’s “line of thinking” because she would have to spend time bringing an interim manager who is unfamiliar with Caro up to speed.
Kish then made the motion to recommend Snider as interim manager for a three-month period to the city council. The committee voted 3-0 to approve the motion, which means it will be recommended to the city council member for final approval. Greene told The Advertiser Tuesday that he wasn’t sure if it would result in any increased pay for Snider during the three months.
The personnel committee then discussed the process of actually finding a permanent city manager.
The committee discussed two options: using an outside firm to handle the process or do it themselves because they have recent experience in the process since Olson was hired in 2013. The committee decided to table the discussion further. Henry later said it will likely come up at a regular city council meeting for the entire body to discuss further.
Andrew Dietderich is editor of The Advertiser and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org