Montcalm County controller-administrator praised, earns bonus

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 10:53 am on Tuesday, August 12, 2014

STANTON — After lengthy discussion and one failed motion, the Montcalm County Finance & Personnel Committee recommended a bonus for their controller-administrator.

Montcalm County’s information and technology (IT) specialist position was vacant for several months, after Mary McMillen resigned last December. Montcalm County Controller-Administrator Chris Hyzer stepped up and filled the position until April, when Eric McLaughlin was hired to fill the vacancy.

At Monday’s Finance & Personnel Committee meeting, Board of Commissioners Chairman Patrick Q. Carr of Lakeview noted Hyzer’s “conscientious” efforts during those three months saved the county more than $13,000. Carr said the county has traditionally given other county employees a bonus, of sorts, for filling in during times of vacancies.

“He’s more than deserving for some consideration for the time he was basically our IT person,” Carr said. “As recently as election night, he stuck around and made sure the computers were running so the clerk could get her job done. He does whatever he can to get the job done. We’ve got other officials and department heads that don’t stay to that level.”

Hyzer attempted to downplay Carr’s praise, saying he was working late on the county budget during election night anyway so he stuck around to help, but Montcalm County Clerk Kristen Millard also had accolades for Hyzer.

“Chris might say that he was working on the budget, which I believe he was, but this wasn’t the first time he’s helped me on election night,” Millard said. “He always checks with me before he leaves for the day, saying is there anything you need? He might be trying to downplay this a little bit, but he’s always very good about helping.”

Ray Holloway of Stanton was among several people in the audience at Monday’s meeting. He said he was told in the past by a county commissioner that filling in at county departments as needed was part of Hyzer’s duties.

“If this is part of his job, I don’t see where we should compensate him,” Holloway said.

“This was not a position that was his to do,” clarified Commissioner Ron Retzloff of Crystal. “It was a vacant position and he took it on until we could hire a new IT person. He took it upon himself as a responsibility as an administrator here to make sure it was taken care of during that period of time.”

“But that is part of his job,” Holloway repeated.

Carr reiterated what Retzloff said, that being an IT specialist isn’t Hyzer’s job, he just filled in for three months until someone was hired to fill the vacancy.

A motion was made to give Hyzer a $2,000 bonus, which Carr thought was less than satisfactory.

“His normal work got done and all the requests for IT got done,” Carr said. “It would have cost the county $13,000 and we’re talking about paying him $2,000?”

The motion failed, with only Commissioner Tom Lindeman of Greenville voting “yes.”

A new motion was made to give Hyzer a $7,500 bonus (about half of what his work saved the county during those three months). The motion passed 3-1, with Commissioners Ron Baker of Howard City, Betty Kellenberger of Carson City and Retzloff voting “yes” and Lindeman voting “no.”

“In our economic state, I’m a little bit reluctant to approve it,” Lindeman noted. “It’s been done right and he’s done the job, but with the economic condition of the county I’m reluctant to approve it.”

Although Carr and Commissioners Ron Braman of Vestaburg and Thomas Porter of Coral were also present at Monday’s meeting, but they are not committee members, so they did not have a vote.

Carr was pleased with the outcome.

“I think what’s right is right,” he said.

The full board will officially vote on Hyzer’s recommended bonus at the regular monthly meeting at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 25.

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