Asks: more COA helpers, football complex toilets, community center sign, trucks | News

TRAVERSE CITY — The Grand Traverse County Commission on Aging is requesting funding for four home care helpers.

Lana Payne, COA director, said a licensed practical nurse was hired to replace the retired one, and a registered nurse was hired to conduct the assessment. She holds one of two RN positions approved last year.

But the agency has five of the 13 general-purpose assistant positions, as well as unfilled homemaker assistants and outdoor workers.

According to Payne, that means there are 200 people on the waiting list who need the services of a housewife or nurse.

“We’re understaffed and so our waiting list, we really haven’t been able to address this issue because we’re still dealing with a hiring opportunity,” Payne said.

Another 200 people are on the roster for lawn care and 175 people for snow removal, she said, though that’s a different matter due to the size of the agency’s equipment warehouse.

The lack of helpers is a nationwide problem, mainly due to low wages. Grand Traverse COA also competes with other agencies that pay higher wages.

Payne said COA, which serves about 1,800 seniors, lost assistants last year due to higher-paying jobs in the region.

Payne said the agency also went back to square one when it came to hiring a head nurse.

“We offered this job to a great candidate this week and she turned it down…because she got a higher offer from the Veterans Affairs Administration at Cadillac,” Payne said. “It was disappointing, it’s been about 16 months.”

According to her, this position is occupied by Payne and another employee.

Nate Alger (copy)


The COA request is part of the list of positions drawn up by county heads as part of the 2023 budget process. County Administrator Nate Alger said meetings are scheduled to review the requests and make recommendations to the county council to approve or deny them. The Board has the final say.

Several requests for equipment include storage toilets at the Keystone Football Complex and Maple Bay Park at $150,000 each, an electronic traffic sign for the Civic Center at a cost of $100,000, and a generator for the township’s East Bay water system.

Bott is back


Chief Financial Officer Dean Bott said the list is typical compared to previous years.

“This is one of the most difficult components of the budget to decide what we really need,” Bott said.

The budget itself will be submitted for approval at a meeting of the commission on July 6 at 8:00 in the county government center.

Alger said COA positions are likely to be approved as they are covered by a $0.4739 million voter-approved tax, which is due to be renewed this year and does not affect the general fund.

Also on the list of applications are four positions for the Sheriff’s Department – a detective, a sergeant in the Marine Corps and two deputies of a school resource.

Alger, who was a school employee at Traverse City West Senior High School for four years, said the positions are very valuable, but the State of Michigan is considering providing them with direct funding.

If public funding stops, Alger said he would support the new posts.

Bryce Hundley


Commissioner Bryce Hundley said it seemed pointless to add posts when departments couldn’t fill the ones they had.

Payne said accessing the waiting list is a separate issue, unrelated to the ability to fill vacancies. With the increase in assistant positions, the COA can take care of its waiting list if there are people to fill them, she said.

In other cases, the county council approved the purchase of two used Ford F-150s from Fox Grand Traverse for $38,278 and $34,727 for the building code department. According to Bott, these are 2019 trucks with low mileage.

The purchase of four new vehicles for the department has been approved in the 2022 budget, but these trucks will not be received until October due to outstanding orders for most vehicle manufacturers that are seen across the country.

Used trucks are needed immediately because one of the department’s vehicles was involved in an accident and another was disabled due to a rusted frame, Bott said.

“We don’t often buy used cars, but times are tough and Bruce (Remay, director) has demonstrated the need,” Alger said.

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