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Ionia County dissolves road commission

Taylor Owens

Staff Writer

The Ionia County Board of Commissioners voted to dissolve the road commission and create a new advisory board Monday night.

Commissioners made the decision after learning the degree to which the road commission employee pension was underfunded. At the time, commissioners had been looking into a different question: Whether the road commission board should be comprised of elected officials, instead of appointed members.

But in the course of collecting information and gathering input, the county commissioners found the pension was only funded at about 38 percent.

“Then things kind of snowballed from there,” county commissioner Jack Shattuck said.

Most other departments in Ionia County have pensions funded through the Michigan Municipal Employee Retirement System at around 80 percent, county administrator Stephanie Fox said. But the road commission had been in the 34 to 40 percent range for a number of years.

To oversee an improvement to the pension, the county commissioners voted to create a new body, the Road Department Advisory Board.

County commissioner Scott Wirtz said the makeup of the new board has yet to be determined, but former road commissioners, city managers and township supervisors will be invited to participate. Wirtz, who has been the county commission's liaison to the road commission, will serve on the board alongside fellow county commissioners Shattuck and Larry Tiejema.

Wirtz said the road department, and its approximately 44 employees, will continue functioning as normal, with the exception of Managing Director Dorothy Pohl. After serving in the position since 1993, her contract will not be renewed when it expires on Dec. 31.

The first meeting of the of the advisory board is tentatively scheduled for 5 p.m. Nov. 12, at the Ionia County Administration Office.

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