Belding renews city manager’s contract

By Emilee Nielsen • Last Updated 12:29 pm on Thursday, January 19, 2017

Belding City Council members from left Brad Miller, Bruce Meyers, Mike Scheid and Mayor Ron Gunderson listen as City Manager Bruce Brown talks about the business that is purchasing the Belding Basket Factory building at 131 E. High St. during Tuesday evening’s meeting. — Daily News/Emilee Nielsen

BELDING — Bruce Brown will stay on as the Belding city manager until 2019.

During a regular meeting Tuesday evening, the Belding City Council went into closed session for a periodical evaluation of the city manager. After the council went back into open session, Mayor Ron Gunderson announced a two-year extension had been extended and accepted by Brown.

Gunderson said he was pleased Brown accepted the contract. Had Brown not accepted the contract, the city would have had to start the application process to find a new city manager in March, a process that would have taken 90 days at least.

Brown’s contract was extended from Aug. 17, 2017, to Feb. 15, 2019. As part of the contract extension, Brown will see a 5 percent increase in his $80,000 salary from August 2017 to August 2018 and again from August 2018 to February 2019. The first increase will bring the salary up to $84,000 and the second increase will bring the salary up to $88,200.

Also as part of the extension, Brown has agreed to assist the City Council in recruiting his replacement in 2018 along with a period of time to assist with the transition.

“My sense is that there is a lot to be done in this community and I think we have started down the road to success,” Brown said. “I just need a little more time to get things in order.”

Brown said he’s enjoyed working with the City Council and city staff which made it easy for him to accept the offer of the contract extension.

“It’s a neat thing for me and for my family and for the city,” he said.

Gunderson said an evaluation of Brown needed to be done “to be fair to Mr. Brown as a city manager and the residents of the city of Belding.”

“(We wanted) to be sure Brown was willing to stay around and to extend that contract so that by doing that we wouldn’t have to start doing a search for a new city manager in August,” he said.

Gunderson said that the contract extension is good news for the city council as well, because there will be three council seats opening up in November 2018.

“That way, if the council had three new members, they could be in on picking the new city manager rather than three out of the five that are here now picking the city manager and in turn having a new council come in,” he said.

Gunderson said he’s looking forward to seeing what sorts of things come to fruition over the course of the next two years.

“I’m looking forward to the changes in Belding. (I like) his eagerness to help move this city forward. I’m looking forward to being able to work with him and be able to work with the council through him to move the city forward in a positive way,” he said.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the council unanimously approved the rezoning of the former Belding Basket Factory at 131 E. High St. from general business to industrial. The council read the resolution for the rezoning at the Jan. 3 regular meeting.

“I did talk to the proposed developer to make sure there are no last minute issues and there are none,” Brown said. “They’re ready to go to work and move to Belding and get on with their lives. They’re excited we’re moving forward with it and they’re ready to come forward.”

Brown said the furniture makers purchasing the former basket factory will be starting work in the steel building that stands behind the basket factory and then will focus on restorative efforts to the basket factory building.

“They’ll be bringing that to the historic district commission for a designation. I’ve agreed to work with them to see if we can find a (compatible use) for part of the building (that won’t be used for building furniture),” Brown said.

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