Contract extended for Lakeview-Stanton manager

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 9:18 am on Friday, October 14, 2011

James Freed

James Freed will be doing double duty in Lakeview and Stanton for three more years.
The Stanton City Commission voted 4-1 on Sept. 27 to extend Freed’s contract. The Lakeview Village Council voted 5-0 on Monday night to do the same.
Stanton Mayor Pro-Tem John Kroneck said the city needs Freed’s continued help in overhauling its outdated water and sewer system.
“The water system needs a real concentrated effort on it,” Kroneck said. “It’s going to be a multi-year project. We wanted to have a consistent leader at the helm. Having someone there at the beginning and knowing that they’re going to be there until the end is of real value to us.”
Both agreements freeze Freed’s salary for three years. Lakeview continues the wage freeze Freed has had in the village since 2009.
Freed will earn a combined annual salary of $62,000, shared between both communities. Each community saves approximately $30,000 per year as a result.
Freed was hired as Lakeview’s village manager in 2008. Lakeview and Stanton first entered into a shared services agreement last February, at which time Freed began overhauling Stanton’s water and sewer system with the unanimous support of the City Commission.
“James has done an exceptional job,” said Lakeview Village President Ed Winter. “We actually have managed to reduce our administrative budget to the lowest point it’s been in some years, below $100,000. He’s managed both communities without a reduction in the quality of services as manager.”
“I think he’s doing a very good job,” added Kathy Lobert, chairwoman of Lakeview’s Personnel and Finance Committee. “He’s progressive and moving us along and saving our village money.”
Freed said the shared services agreement was the first of its kind in Michigan. He oversees about 20 employees and approximately $10 million in assets between both communities.
“I am deeply humbled and honored to have the opportunity to continue serving these great communities,” Freed said. “I have two very talented and experienced teams I am working with and I am excited to continue leading these teams to success.”
Stanton Commissioner Ken Burris cast the lone opposing vote in Stanton. He disagreed with a $4,500 signing stipend Freed received from both communities to fund his pension. Burris also thought extending Freed’s contract for three years was premature when Freed had five months remaining on his current contract.
Burris voted to approve increasing the city’s water and sewer rate in June, along with his fellow commissioners, but he has since changed his tune.
“He’s done a lot of good for us, there’s no question about that,” said Burris of Freed. “However, we were overcharged for our water and sewer rates. It cost everybody in this town a rate we shouldn’t have had to pay.”
Freed said he completely disagrees with Burris and so does the city’s legal counsel.
“The water and sewer issue, although difficult, was an issue that had to be addressed,” Freed said. “There are good political decisions and then there are sound policy decisions and oftentimes they don’t mix. I am focused on making sound policy decisions.”

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