Three Rivers DDA votes to increase executive director’s salary

THREE RIVERS — The Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority Friday voted 6-1 to approve increasing Executive Director David Vago’s annual salary to $47,476, in order to meet the revised minimum salary and maintain the position as salary exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act that will take effect on Dec. 1.
Board members Sharon Bachinski, Doug Mitchell, Bobbi Schoon, Tom Miles, Tim Raakman and board chair Sara Herrmann voted yes, while board member Tricia Meyer voted no.
Vago was asked prior to the vote what he would like to see done.
“I’ve been asked this several times now and I joke, that of course, any opportunity to take a salary increase is something I’m in favor of. In reality, I do think this organization needs a better volunteer commitment from the board and from the community,” Vago said.
“Partly because the people carrying the workload, myself excluded, at least I’m paid to be here, right? There are people who are disproportionately carrying the workload and I would like to see that change. Even if not instantly, just to work our way to changing the culture a little bit moving forward.
“As Sara (Herrmann) pointed out, there are things that I can and should be doing as an executive director that ideally I could put my time into with a clear head, building relationships with those captains of industry here that could ultimately provide that long-term financial stability and I’m able to do that piece meal at best at the moment.
“And so between those two things we do need to change. I kind of agree that making this particular issue the issue around forcing that change is risky and I’m not comfortable with that risk. It doesn’t mean that we don’t need to push it in some way and I’m not sure how that will look besides building a campaign and being really deliberate and strategic about targeting people for specific tasks and building up that culture of engagement but I don’t have a hard and fast position on this.”
Meyer said she voted no because it wouldn’t prevent Vago from working too many hours and would only perpetuate the problem the board is currently faced with.
“I guess the only comment that I would make is that as a board, I’m not in favor of (this) but that’s beside the point,” Meyer said. “As a board, I hope what (Vago) said will get everybody’s attention and lead to force some type of change in the status quo of a lot of work being put on a few individuals, so something needs to change. In theory we could work him 80 hours a week, if we want to now. If the job needs to get done, just throw it on Dave’s lap.”
Vago said he had several conversations with Meyer about this decision prior to Friday’s meeting and said Meyer’s “opposition to this motion” came honestly. He said Meyer has made a significant commitment to the DDA and her contributions equate to what would be a part-time job, in addition to her other responsibilities outside of the DDA.
Vago said the board needs to address the imbalance of workload and he excludes himself from that “entirely” because “working beyond 40 hours by a significant margin” was something he expected when he accepted the position.
“But for people who aren’t being paid to be here, I think it’s really, I’ll limit myself to the word unfair but it’s important that we recognize and address that,” Vago said.
In other business the board…
•Unanimously voted to offer the DDA attorney position to Hines & Marvin, P.C. of Three Rivers, while giving Herrmann permission to negotiate the rates stated in the initial bid. The board received three bids for the vacancy before choosing Hines & Marvin over Davidson Law Office and Swiderski, Ward & Burns, PLLC.
Alek Frost can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 24 or alek@threeriversnews.com.

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