Sobel and to several Freedom of Information Act requests from the newspaper regarding the 2016 assessments. Jamo said his office had not yet received the letter from Sobel, and that his answer to the EagleHerald’s request for missing documentation on the city’s Economic Condition Factor changes would be forthcoming in an email. He said he had spoken to Negro, the city’s contracted assessor, about the information missing from the FOIA request. Later in the day, Jamo confirmed the city had received the signed letter from Sobel, dated Oct. 4, but postmarked Oct. 6. The EagleHerald sent two FOIA requests Sept. 1 to the city and Jamo, as the city’s interim manager and FOIA officer. One requested information about Negro’s hiring in 2015. The other requested specific data — the 2015 map and separate descriptions of each ECF district, as well as the 2016 ECF map and separate descriptions of the new ECF districts. Former City Manager Ted Andrzejewski had told the city’s finance committee March 14 that Negro had reduced the ECF districts,
with the help of Menominee County Equalization Director Peg Schroud, from 36 to four. He also stated that Negro had “put the assessed values at 100 percent” on more than 600 properties that had been identified in the Audit of Minimum Assessing Requirements (AMAR) as lacking written explanations for land value adjustments. Andrzejewski had resigned March 7, one week before giving the report on the AMAR review to the committee. Negro, whose contract was renewed in June for another year, resigned the second week of September. Her last day has been set for Oct. 31. On Sept. 12, the city requested a 10-day extension to the five business-day deadline for the two FOIA requests from the EagleHerald; Sept. 26, the EagleHerald received the responses. In the packet requesting the ECF information, there was only one undated, eight-page listing of 21 numbered neighborhoods and their individual descriptions. The separate request regarding Negro’s hiring included her resume, certification, emails and meeting minutes, but no information about references. Jamo was asked Sept.
council a plan to make the position she is leaving a full-time city employee. Council member Frank Pohlmann, chairman of the Finance Committee, did not add discussion about the assessor position to the agenda, but brought it up at the end of the meeting. “I think the Finance Committee should invite the current assessor to a meeting,” he suggested, and asked Council member Bill Plemel and Mayor Jean Stegeman of their availability next week. “It would be to talk about (not personnel) but finance related to past assessments,” Pohlmann said. Plemel, who is the chairman of the Judicial & Legislature/Personnel & Labor Committee, said that added one more person, Council member Josh Jones, could make it a joint Finance/J&L/P&L meeting. Missing from the meetings Tuesday evening were Council members Steve Fifarek and Dennis Klitzke. Fifarek is also a member of finance. Pohlmann said he considered
ed Lumber River, sporadic looting was reported, and a North Carolina trooper searching for people trapped by the floodwaters killed a man who confronted officers with a gun Monday night, police said. Authorities gave few details, but McCrory said the shooting happened in “very difficult circumstances,” adding: “Tension can be high when people are going through very, very emotional circumstances.” In Lumberton, patience was wearing thin. Ada Page, 74, spent two nights sleeping in a hard plastic folding chair at a shelter put together so hastily there were no cots and people had to walk outside in the back to use portable toilets. She complained she didn’t even have her children’s telephone numbers with her. “I left at home all my clothes, everything. The only thing I have is this child and
26 the whereabouts of the remaining three ECF documents, and to identify the document which was provided, since it had neither a date, nor a title page signifying what it was. He also was asked for Negro’s list of references, since they were mentioned in an email to Andrzejewski, but not included in the information given to the EagleHerald. The EagleHerald put the request in writing Sept. 28, which asked Jamo for the documents or a reason, in writing, why the FOIA requests were not adequately met. According to the contract the city of Menominee has with Negro, on Page 3, Section P, she is to “assure that all, necessary documents are available for the meeting of the Board of Review, including: 1) The property record cards, the land value maps, the neighborhood ECF and parcel maps, and any other data used by the Assessor in determining the values of improved, unimproved and personal property in the city.” The letter to Jamo stated, “Either the Board of Review received those documents and I didn’t, or those documents do not exist. If those documents do not exist, I would like written confirma-
the conversation would focus on “finance-related” issues, and set a meeting for Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. When J&L/P&L Committee met immediately afterward, Interim City Manager/City Attorney Rob Jamo introduced a revised job description for the city assessor position, one that he said was originally drafted in 1996. The biggest change was not in the document itself, but in the recommendationthat the city go from a contracted position — part-time currently — to a full-time city employee position. Jamo said language he suggested adding would make it clear that the employee would be “responsible for performing additional administrative duties, not directly related to the assessing function, at the direction of the city manager.” He said the intention was to “cross train the person to a full utility position” where the person could be sent to other departments to fill in or help out when the season permitted. “It’s a 40-hour-a-week (position) sometimes, and other times — calendar dependent — it’s less than 40 hours,” Jamo said. “The goal is to have
what I was driving,” said Page, who was with the 8-year-old granddaughter she takes care of. The full extent of the disaster in North Carolina was still unclear, but it appeared that thousands of homes were damaged. Many likened Matthew to Hurricane Floyd, which did $3 billion in damage and destroyed 7,000 homes in North Carolina as it skirted the state’s coast in 1999. McCrory said thousands of animals drowned, mostly chickens on poultry farms, and he was deciding how to dispose of the carcasses safely. The flooding extended to South Carolina, where 150 people had to be rescued Monday from the tiny town of Nichols, downstream from Lumberton. On Tuesday, some residents returned in boats to survey the damage. Also flooding were the Neuse River, which reached a record crest in Goldsboro on Tuesday, and the Tar River, which threatened Princeville, a town founded
A3 Wednesday, October 12, 2016
tion.” Jamo’s email response Tuesday was that the documents do not exist. “I am writing in response to your letter dated September 28, 2016. The September 26, 2016 response to your Freedom of Information Act request included all public records possessed by the City of Menominee that fell within the scope of your request. Records you requested, but did not receive, do not exist,” his email to the EagleHerald stated. Local attorney Joe Jones has been working with and for several city property owners who went before the Board of Review unsuccessfully and later filed petitions with the Michigan Tax Tribunal regarding the changes made to their 2016 property assessments, and he said he believes the reason for many of these increases was a combination of utilizing new ECFs and neighborhood boundaries, the 2016 vacant land sales study and the removal of many land adjustments. Jones shared his concerns with members of the city council in May and later shared them with the State of Michigan Department of Treasury.
the person perform other duties.” He was asked if the city assessor would still be considered a department head, and Jamo said the position would continue in that capacity. Jones asked if other department heads are asked to do the same thing. “Sometimes, we do that in other jobs,” Jamo said. “They know that they are expected to.” Pohlmann said he thought it was a good idea to have everybody “asked to do something else,” and said he liked that it was spelled out in the job description. “I personally believe that this is not a full-time assignment,” he said. He said, if he was a person considering the job, he would want to know how much time he would spend on assessments and how much on other things. Plemel said it was impossible to know, and added that he believed a full-time person is needed, especially now with the concerns about the 2016 tax roll. In the end, the committee voted 4-0 to recommend the revised job description to the council.
in 1865 by freed slaves and destroyed by Floyd’s flooding 17 years ago. After that, the river flows into Greenville, where Danita Lynch wasn’t taking any chances. She helped her 59-year-old mother load nearly all her belongings into a box truck and get to higher ground. “We decided to pack her up yesterday. The water is right across the street,” Lynch said. East Carolina University in Greenville canceled classes for the rest of the week for its more than 28,000 students. Mary Schulken, the school’s executive director of communications, said that as the Tar began flooding over the weekend, she had to move her 98-year-old mother and her belongings out of her retirement community next to the river. “She was fearful, upset, anxious, and when she’s that way, I’m that way,” Schulken said. “I know that is a personal experience that
is being repeated and has the potential to be repeated many times over in this community.” Not everyone was obeying the evacuation order. Angie Hamill was still serving drinks Tuesday afternoon at the Players Retreat Bar next to the river in Greenville. Brown muck from Floyd could still be seen above the chair rail, though the water wasn’t forecast to rise quite that high this time.The gambling machines and an ATM were removed from the bar to keep them safe.
County Board of Supervisors voted 28-0 in support of this resolution. Even though the mine is on the Michigan side of the river and Wisconsin has no say in the permitting process. Commissioner Bernie Lang said the risk is not worth the benefit, but the resolution is a more political football to get people to state their position and not within the board’s duties. Two of the nine commissioners were in support of signing the resolution. It did not move forward. More than 30 people attended the board meeting. A handful were in support and many of the others were in opposition. Some of the same people who testified at the DEQ public hearing last week addressed the county board Tuesday. Nancy Douglas, executive director of the Menominee Economic Development Corp., said if the mining company can meet the environmental laws in place, the county could use this mining opportunity that would create 150 jobs. “Our young people leave. Our economy is stagnant. This is an opportunity for this county. I urge you to have a presentation from Aquila so you have more information, and that you ask the DEQ to enforce the law,” she said. Laura Rowe, Marinette, said sulfide mining has a near perfect of record of pollution. “Not one has ever developed, operated or closed without polluting or drainage. Copper in my opinion, zinc or gold, are not
more precious than water. The earth needs water, the human body needs water, animals need water. We all need water to survive,” she said. Representatives from Aquila Resources, Robin Quigley and Cliff Nelson, were also in attendance. Nelson, vice president of U.S. operations for Aquila, said the company wants to work with the community and set it up for the longterm. “The mine is coming. Passing a negative resolution in this respect definitely won’t help. I’m sorry you didn’t try to talk to us before passing resolution,” he said. “Table resolution until hear from us. We would like to come talk and address the concerns you do have.” Robin Quigley, representative of Aquila, invited everyone to the open house and tour being held at the field office in Stephenson form 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. She said there will be experts, geologists,mining engineers and permit specialist on site for people to have their questions answered. Action items: ■ The board unanimously approved a $3.15 per hour pay increase for Sherry DuPont while in the position of Interim County Administrator plus overtime for any hours worked past 40 hours a week. Her pay is retroactive to the date she was hired into the interim position. A Committee of the Whole meeting will be held prior to the Oct. 25 county board meeting to discuss the administrator position and an IT position for the county.
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