2013-03-07 / Front Page

DATA hires, leases director

Stapleton now DATA employee, to be leased to Schoolcraft transit

MANISTIQUE – Schoolcraft County Public Transit is now sharing services with the Delta County Transit Authority, but not as originally planned. DATA has hired Schoolcraft’s current director as their own, and will lease the employee back to the county as part of an agreement approved recently by the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners.

A shared services agreement was first pursued by DATA in October. The agreement stated that Schoolcraft County Public Transit Director John Stapleton would split his time 50/50 between Schoolcraft and Delta counties and receive a salary of $50,000 per year, benefit package, and the use of a DATA administration vehicle for transportation.

The agreement, initially approved by both counties, called for Delta County to reimburse Schoolcraft County on a quarterly basis for 50 percent of Stapleton’s salary and benefit package.

In meeting in early February, Schoolcraft County commissioners expressed concerns about the actual contract between the counties. Before signing, they requested more information from the Schoolcraft County Transit Board on how the counties would split retirement and insurance costs.

During Thursday’s meeting, the board was presented instead with a proposal from DATA, which stated the authority had negotiated a salary and benefits package with Stapleton and voted to hire him as their executive director. According to the contract, DATA offered Schoolcraft County 50 percent of Stapleton’s services in exchange for $29,000 per year.

The DATA contract also indicated the entity would pay all of Stapleton’s salary, retirement, health insurance, administrative costs, and provide him with an administrative vehicle. They stipulated a start date of March 1, with the contract between the counties lasting for one year.

“If things don’t work out, we would just hire him back – if he decided to come back to us,” Chairperson Al Grimm said on Monday. “He’s been taking care of both counties for a few months now, and it has been going well.”

The contract between the counties was drawn up by the Schoolcraft County’s attorney, Grimm added, and while the board initially voted to give Stapleton a leave of absence for his year trial, they recently discovered this was against county policy. Instead, he said the county will offer the position to Stapleton again if the county decides not to pursue a shared services agreement for a second year.

According to transit figures, the county is expected to save approximately $25,000 a year under the agreement. The cost of appointing a deputy director to fill in during periods when Stapleton is not available was estimated to cost an additional $1,352 per year. The county is currently posting the opening of the deputy director position.

The board unanimously approved the contract with DATA.

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