City Manager Contract, TIF Extension on Commission Agenda
By Beth Milligan | Oct. 9, 2023
Traverse City commissioners will vote tonight (Monday) to appoint Missaukee County Administrator and Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Vogel as Traverse City’s new manager effective January 2 and to approve the terms of her employment agreement. Commissioners will also meet in a joint study session with Traverse City Downtown Development Authority board members to discuss the proposed extension of the TIF 97 plan, though no action will be taken.
City Manager Contract
After voting unanimously at the commission’s September 25 meeting to offer the position of city manager to Missaukee County Administrator and Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Vogel (pictured), commissioners tonight will vote to approve her negotiated employment contract and official start date of January 2.
The proposed terms of Vogel’s contract give her an annual salary of $175,000. The salary range listed for the position was between $160,000 and $190,000. The contract also includes a one-time $8,000 payment for relocation expenses, four weeks of vacation, a $500 monthly car allowance, and other fringe benefits extended to city administrative, confidential, and technical (ACT) employees.
The contract states that in the event city commissioners terminate Vogel, she will receive 180 calendar days of pay and health and dental premiums as severance. If Vogel resigns, she must give the city at least 60 days’ notice or else pay damages equal to one half of her daily pay for each day less than 60 days. Vogel will receive a formal performance evaluation on or before June 30 of each year, but those evaluations “shall not be a renegotiation of the terms of this agreement,” according to the contract.
According to the official job description attached to the contract, Vogel as city manager “shall be the administrative officer of the city and shall hold office at the pleasure of the city commission. Under the general supervision of the city commission, (she) performs a broad range of administrative and financial functions in support of the daily operations which serves the best interests of the entire Traverse City community.” Vogel will also oversee “the functions of all city departments” and is expected to have “well-developed organizational skills and a good knowledge of municipal practices and procedures related to the duties assigned.”
The job requires a bachelor’s degree in public administration or a related field, with a master’s degree preferred; Vogel is a graduate of Albion College and has a Master of Arts from Loyola University and a Master of Business Administration from Baker College. She has served as the administrator and chief financial officer for Missaukee County since 2021 and previously served as the deputy supervisor for Clinton Township.
Vogel was offered the position after City Clerk Benjamin Marentette, who was initially offered the job, withdrew from consideration. She previously said she would need to give Missaukee County six to eight weeks’ notice, putting her on track to start after Thanksgiving. After some commissioners noted that the last month of the year is typically consumed with holiday activities, they suggested setting a clean start date for Vogel at the beginning of January. Interim City Manager Nate Geinzer has agreed to serve until Vogel comes on board and to collaboratively assist her on the transition.
Moving Downtown Forward/TIF Extension
Following their special meeting to vote on Vogel’s contract, city commissioners and Traverse City Downtown Development Authority (DDA) board members will meet in a joint session tonight to discuss detours during the Grandview Parkway/East Front Street reconstruction project and the proposed extension of the DDA’s TIF 97 plan, to be renamed Moving Downtown Forward.
The DDA is looking to extend the TIF 97 plan – which covers the core of downtown Traverse City and is set to expire at the end of 2027 – by another 30 years. As part of the extension, the plan would be renamed the Moving Downtown Forward financing plan and include a new list of projects that could be funded through TIF over the next three decades. TIF districts capture taxes on rising property values within their boundaries to fund public improvement projects. However, those projects must be named in the plan in order to be funded.
In a memo to commissioners, DDA CEO Jean Derenzy listed several reasons why she believed TIF 97 should be extended – a move that will require DDA board and city commission approval and could be subject to a public referendum. Derenzy wrote that TIF is the “ONLY municipal revenue sharing tool that utilizes funds from other regional taxing partners,” noting that those partners contribute $1.7 million to downtown infrastructure and maintenance.
“TIF protects Traverse City residents by allowing non-city residents to share in the cost of the downtown district maintenance and upkeep that is utilized by 50,000 non-residents daily,” she wrote. “As a destination and regional hub, it is reasonable that the city explores financing tools that allow for the sharing of the cost of major infrastructure, maintenance, and upkeep. Downtown serves as a regional hub, accommodating a daily workforce of 5,200 individuals. The city, its residents, and our regional taxing partners have invested; we need to protect and support that investment into the future.”
Derenzy said that the city should extend TIF 97 now instead of waiting until its 2027 expiration date because there are only two budget cycles left in the current plan, and the city “needs to know well in advance of the 2027 budget cycle if TIF no longer exists in order to address a $1.7 million-plus deficit no longer realized from regional taxing partners.” Without TIF, “the financial burden of downtown maintenance and upkeep rests solely on city residents,” she said. Derenzy also highlighted a “new approach” in the Moving Downtown Forward plan that will allow some revenues to return to regional taxing partners. The proposal would add a provision in the new TIF plan to transfer the first six years (1997 to 2004) of tax growth back to the regional taxing partners, as well as transfer half of the inflationary growth of each future year of the new plan.
The 1997-2004 tax revenue capture totals approximately $1.4 million. “This amount would go back to the regional taxing partners annually,” Derenzy wrote. She said the DDA has “worked to identify emerging needs in the Moving Downtown Forward Plan, and this allows us to support the city as they work to address those needs.” Documents detailing the history of TIF 97, the process of amending the TIF plan, potential projects in the new plan, the new approach with taxing partners, and the mechanics of TIF have been provided for commissioners and DDA board members to discuss tonight.Comment