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Ottawa commissioners vote to expand executive assistant role during Board meeting

Ottawa County building.jpg
Posted at 4:10 PM, Mar 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-14 16:53:07-04

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — More changes were voted on in Ottawa County during an hours-long Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday.

Doug Zylstra, the only democratic commissioner on the Board, was removed from the county’s Housing Commission.

Commissioner Roger Bergman criticized Chairman Joe Moss, claiming the motion to remove Zylstra was politically motivated. Moss replied saying it was not.

Zylstra was one of three people who were removed, replaced by a local housing developer, realtor and Administrator John Gibbs.

Ottawa commissioners vote to expand executive assistant role during Board meeting

Gibbs served in the Department of Housing and Urban Development for about a year under the Trump administration.

In another vote, the vacant executive assistant role was reclassified as the “senior executive aid to the administrator,” along with a $37,000 raise. The salary for the position now exceeds $82,000, which will cost the county $132,000 to include benefits.

WXMI16_23_26230314 by WXMI

Jacob Bonnema, who voted against the proposal, noted the new salary is nearly the same amount paid to a department director.

Other concerns regarding the position were raised, including why the move was proposed at this time when it wasn’t needed before.

Gibbs says they plan to be more hands-on.

"The previous administrators did not have this role, but that speaks to the fact that myself and the entire Board are in a bit of a different capacity perhaps than the previous administrators in that we're a bit more hands-on in terms of how we do things," says Gibbs, "so that does increase the workload of what we're doing and that necessitates this position."

"I think you recently accepted this job for the pay," Bonnema replied. "I don't think this burden should be on the backs of the taxpayers, so I ask you to do the job that you accepted to do."

“I am doing that and this is going to help me do that even better,” says Gibbs.

Board documents say they are seeking candidates with master’s degrees, at least two years of major board experience and someone to act as Gibbs's "confidant" and "body person."

Gibbs explains the pay raise is affordable because they saved $300,000 with the elimination of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Department.

Board members also voted to deny a proclamation that would recognize March as Women's History Month. They say they needed more time to review the proclamation, as they had just received the document Tuesday morning.

READ MORE: MDHHS says erroneous approval letter sent regarding Ottawa Co. health officer

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