Local units of government would no longer be allowed to adopt a charter, ordinance or resolution that would enact a minimum staffing requirement under legislation that has received the blessing of the state Senate and now heads to the state House.
The legislative package, Senate Bills (SBs) 485 through 492, would prohibit minimum staffing requirements for cities, counties, villages, and townships. SB 488 was introduced by state Sen. David Robertson (R-Waterford).
“If a community has a minimum staffing level right now, they are unaffected by this,” Robertson said, adding that he believes there are “only a handful of communities” that currently have such staffing requirements. “From this point forward, it can’t be placed in a charter.”
The legislation would not apply to the adoption of a resolution involving a collective bargaining agreement.
Robertson and state Sen. Mike Kowall (R-Commerce, Highland, Milford, Walled Lake, Wixom, Wolverine Lake, White Lake, Orchard Lake, West Bloomfield) voted in favor of the legislation when it cleared the state Senate on Wednesday, June 22, in a 26-12 vote.
“A lot of the problems that some of these communities have had is that they’ve gone to these mandatory staffing guidelines,” Kowall said. “We don’t have to look too far (for examples of this). Pontiac is one of them. They built it into their charter. It’s created all kinds of issues, and it was never intended to do that.”
Gov. Rick Snyder called for the prohibition of minimum staffing requirements in a February address to the state Legislature, saying that petition drives have resulted in city charter amendments that established minimum staffing levels, although those provisions are sometimes violated because the city cannot afford to maintain staff at those levels.
“Management decisions in a democracy should be made by those elected to manage — local officials,” Snyder said this past winter. “Staffing levels should be part of the collective bargaining process, not mandated by city, county or village charters. Charter amendments that set minimum staffing requirements circumvent the collective bargaining process and management decisions and should not be allowed.”
The Michigan Municipal League declined to comment on the legislation, which was scheduled for a hearing in the House Local, Intergovernmental, and Regional Affairs Committee yesterday, Tuesday, June 28.