City commission approves employment agreement for new city manager

Mount Pleasant City Commission Zoom meeting on Sept. 13, 2021.

Commissioners approved the employment contract created with Aaron Desentz, Mount Pleasant’s new city manager, at its Sept. 13 meeting.

“We went out to find a great city manager and I think we all feel good about this decision,” said Mayor William Joseph. “I’m looking forward to working with Mr. Desentz.”

Desentz’s employment will begin on Oct. 18, marking City Manager Nancy Ridley’s final day as Oct. 29.

Mount Pleasant City Commission also discussed a potential community ice rink and expanding outdoor dining.

Commissioner Lori Gillis was absent from the meeting.

Approved City Manager Agreement 

The city commission unanimously approved a contract for the employment of Desentz, a city manager from Eaton Rapids, Michigan. Desentz’s contract was drawn to match Ridley’s.

“This is essentially the exact contract that manager Ridley has, just with a slight adjustment to the salary based upon agreements with Mr. Desentz,” said Joseph.

Frank Walsh, CEO of Walsh Municipal Services, expressed his respect for Desentz’s decision to leave the contract untouched. New city manager contracts often involve extensive changes and salary increases, he said.

“I want to credit Mr. Desentz because he was very clear that out of respect for Nancy Ridley and her service he didn’t want to make a dime more than her,” said Walsh.

Joseph congratulated the commissioners on a successful job search, commenting on the commission’s shared excitement to work with Desentz.

Ridley announced her final day of work will be Oct. 29, two weeks after the start of Desentz’s employment.

“I intend to train Desentz during these two weeks,” said Ridley. “Even after I retire I’m not leaving the community and I’m committed to being readily available to talk and answer questions.”

Outdoor Ice Rink

Commissioners debated approving the budget for a potential outdoor community ice rink. Ridley presented two options to the commission: a temporary rink for $21,300 or a year-round synthetic rink for approximately $133,000.

The temporary rink would require more staff and potentially be unusable in warm winter weather conditions, Ridley said. Neither option would include an ice skate rental or concession stand. She advised waiting for more discussion in a work meeting.

Despite Ridley’s recommendation, Commissioner Petro Tolas fought for a motion to pass the $21,300 budget.

“$21,300 isn’t that much to swing and I think we should pass the temporary ice rink,” said Tolas. “Put the tarps down so the kids have somewhere to skate.”

However, Joseph and several commissioners argued to wait for more information. Weather concerns were a prominent fear.

“The money isn’t the issue here, but we need to solidify a plan and work out the details,” said Joseph. “I also want Commissioner Gillis here because she’s been interested in this project for over a year.”

Tolas’ motion was denied 1-5. A motion to discuss the rink in a future work session passed 5-1 with Tolas as the dissenting vote.

Outdoor Dining Expansion

The city commission evaluated a recommendation to amend the Downtown Outdoor Dining Policy to continue temporary outdoor dining opportunities. Approval would also allow for creation or expansion of permanent outdoor dining locations based upon administrative review through June 2022.

"COVID-19 has made outdoor dining a regular practice and this would continue that initiative," said Ridley. 

The recommendation passed 6-0.

The entire city commission meeting can be viewed on the city commission’s Youtube.