Thursday, January 6, 2022

Trustee, clerk question contract

Members of Sumpter Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved a final payment of $16,720.30 to former Township Administrator Michelle Cole who resigned last month to take another job.

The final payment was for accrued vacation and personal time Cole had earned until her last day on the job at the rate of $45.19 per hour. That amount is about half what Cole negotiated with the trustees to provide help as an independent contractor until a replacement is hired.  Cole and the trustees agreed to a rate of $95 per hour for her services not to exceed eight hours a week, although Trustee Don LaPorte and Clerk Esther Hurst voted no on the agreement. 

LaPorte noted that promised lists of contacts and current projects was not forthcoming from Cole as promised and Hurst explained that she did not receive information she needed from Cole in a timely manner. Hurst said she took other steps to ensure that she had the correct contact and contract information to perform the duties that have been transferred to the clerk's office in Cole's absence.

LaPorte was vocal in his criticism of Cole's failure to provide the information despite her repeated assurances to trustees and officials that she would be available and was willing to help.

“We need to understand what is going on with these projects,” LaPorte said. He added that Cole had not provided the information by the time she said she would and that, as she was due to be in township hall the next day, “If she can't provide this tomorrow, we don't need her services,” he said. He reiterated that he felt Cole had provided short notice of her departure and that the township was left unprepared on several issues.

“We can move forward without her,” LaPorte said. Sources said that while Cole did provide the promised list of contacts and ongoing projects the next day, the work was “incomplete.”