BELDING — Regular city business of the Belding City Council will occur Tuesday evening at the Pere Marquette Depot in Belding, but the topic likely to attract the attention of the public is the evaluation of City Manager Meg Mullendore.
At 7 p.m., members of City Council will convene for the regularly scheduled council meeting to conduct the city’s business, which will include items such as approving or disproving an Arbor Day Proclamation as well as a contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation for the removal and replacement of the Main Street Bridge.
As is laid out in the meeting’s agenda, citizens will have the opportunity to speak in regards to any agenda item at the beginning of the meeting for up to three minutes per person.
Once discussion and action on all agenda business items have concluded, public comment will open again for any non-agenda items for discussion, again allowing three minutes of time to speak per person.
Once the agenda items have been handled through council comment, Mayor Ron Gunderson said he will request a motion that the meeting enter a closed session to perform the one-year performance evaluation of Mullendore.
As pursuant to the Michigan Open Meetings Act 15.268, Sec. 8 (a), Mullendore has requested closed session for her evaluation.
Sec. 8 (a) of the Michigan Open Meetings Act states that a public body may meet in closed session to consider a periodic personnel evaluation of a public officer, employee, staff member or an individual agent if that particular person requests a closed hearing. Other reasons for a requested closed session under Sec. 8 (a) also include consideration for dismissal, suspension, discipline or to hear complaints or charges against that individual, however, Tuesday’s agenda lists only a city manager evaluation.
According to Michigan’s Open Meetings Act, the closed session is “a meeting or part of a meeting of a public body which is closed to the public.”
Gunderson said once closed session is announced, the public will be asked to leave the chamber room of the Pere Marquette Depot Building until Mullendore’s evaluation is completed, at which time the meeting will re-enter open session and the public will be invited back into the room.
In November, Mullendore’s six-month evaluation, also in closed session, lasted nearly two hours.
Once council has re-entered open session, Gunderson said council will make any decisions necessary regarding any changes to Mullendore’s contract, which extends through April of 2015.
Once any necessary action is taken in regards to the contract, or if no action is needed, Gunderson will entertain a motion to adjourn the meeting.
“This is strictly an evaluation, this has nothing to do with a contract issue,” Gunderson said of Mullendore’s evaluation. “It’s a performance evaluation. We will critique what she has done in the last six months since her last evaluation.”
During the most recent two meetings, on March 18 and April 1, the nonagenda public comment period has weighed heavily on comments regarding Mullendore.
Each time, the comment period has lasted longer than 30 minutes, with an average of 10 citizens speaking throughout the session.
Several residents and business owners of Belding and neighboring communities have requested that City Manager Meg Mullendore resign from her position “immediately,” based on their alleged concerns.
In response, Gunderson has said that all five City Council members have listened and taken into account everything that has been said and will take all information received into account during Mullendore’s evaluation.
Gunderson said with the expectation of additional public comment from citizens Tuesday, he asks that citizens be respectful of the council’s rules and procedures in regards to public comment.
“Persons addressing the council shall make responsible comments and shall refrain from making personal and pertinent, slanderous, and profane remarks,” he recited from the council’s rules and procedures at the most recent meeting. “The chair may call to order any person who is being disorderly by speaking where not recognized or otherwise disrupting the proceedings by speaking longer than the allotted time or by speaking vulgarly. If a person is called out of order, he or she will not be permitted to speak at the same meeting. If a person shall continue to be disruptive at the meeting, the chair may order the police department to remove the person from the meeting.”
If after Mullendore’s evaluation council members feel a motion is warranted in regard’s to terminating her contract, the council is within the bounds of her contract to take action.
According to her official contract, “It is expressly understood that the city manager serves at the pleasure of City Council. The city council may terminate the city manger’s employment, at any time, without reason, subject only to the severance provisions (listed in the contract).”