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Esky city manager decides to stay

ESCANABA — Members of the public and even some council members were surprised Monday when City Manager Patrick Jordan was presented with a new contract to stay on as the city’s manager.

“If feels good to be coming back, and it was an absolutely grueling decision. I’m happy to be here, I love this place, but we had an offer and there are things that Florida offers with family and friends down there that was attractive, but I feel like there’s just so much good — we’re going in such the right direction right now, and I wanted to stay here and see it through,” Jordan told the Daily Press following the council’s vote to rehire him.

Prior to Jordan’s Oct. 3 announcement he intended to resign from the city after just over two years of employment. Council Member Ralph Blasier and Mayor Marc Tall were appointed to a special subcommittee to negotiate Jordan’s contract. At that time, Jordan sought a raise, more paid time off, and any severance pay he received if his employment was terminated by the city be a lump sum payment instead of the six months severance paid biweekly stipulated in his contract.

The subcommittee did not come to an agreement and did not make a recommendation to the rest of the council to change Jordan’s contract. Tall and Blasier did not immediately disclose what changes Jordan had sought, and at the Aug. 1 council meeting, council members hotly debated whether or not it was appropriate for only the subcommittee to know what changes Jordan wanted.

“Will the rest of the council be informed as to what the manager was hoping to have changed? Will the rest of us be in the loop? Are we or are we not entitled to know what was going on?” asked Council Member Ron Beauchamp, who has since lost his seat on the council, at the Aug. 1 meeting.

Monday, Blasier announced he and Tall had continued meeting with Jordan even after Jordan announced his intent to resign from his post with the city.

“The mayor never disbanded the subcommittee, and we in fact kept working, and we met with Mr. Jordan as recently as — I think it was last Thursday, but it could have been Wednesday, I forgot — and Mr. Jordan’s gone back and forth and back and forth as to whether he needs to move or wants to work for us, and the last I heard he wishes to remain with us,” said Blasier.

Blasier made a motion the council accept Jordan’s original resignation and rehire him at a salary of $125,000 per year, with 32 days paid time off, $12,500 deposited into a 457(b) retirement account, and that Jordan’s severance package be paid in a lump sum if he were to be terminated by the city.

When Jordan signed a one-year contract with the city in June of 2017, he earned $95,000 a year during a six-month probationary period and was provided $5,000 for moving expenses. His salary was bumped up to $100,000 a year when the probationary period ended.

“Before Mayor Tall and I started working with the subcommittee, he was the lowest paid manager in the U.P., and now he won’t be the highest, but he’ll be right up at the top echelon. He won’t be at the bottom echelon where he was. So I don’t feel that the number’s really wrong,” said Blasier.

Council Member Peggy O’Connell, who repeatedly expressed her surprise at the news, stated she too felt the salary was appropriate given the cost of bringing a new manager to the city.

“I know some people on social media are just going to have a picnic with this and think it’s a really big deal and keep on bullying people, but, yeah, I definitely did not see this coming, but I’m in full agreement that this cooperative council that’s going to work very well together will be able to work very well with Patrick and keep our city going, where all of us reside,” said O’Connell.

While Tall and newly-sworn-in Council Member Karen Moore expressed their support for keeping Jordan at the new salary rate, Council Member Tyler Dubord — who was also sworn in Monday — made waves by arguing Jordan should reapply for the position and compete against the other applicants vying for the position.

“I understand everyone’s stance on this, I just feel that the resignation was already submitted, we have a lot of applicants, we’ve spent about $1,200 in advertisement and postings for this job. I think it’s only fair that he has the right to reapply and we have the right to look at the other applicants that have already applied, because there are some really good ones out there, as well, that I feel could do just a good job, as well,” he said.

Ultimately, the council voted four-to-one to rehire Jordan at the new rate, with Dubord as the lone dissenter, and Jordan signed his new contract.

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