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Volo preserves Christmas bonuses

VOLO – Village employees will get their $500 Christmas bonus this year.

The Volo Village Board voted, 4-2, Tuesday night not to rescind the nonperformance-based bonuses approved two weeks ago. Some trustees on the personnel committee were concerned the bonuses had not been pointed out to the full board when they were approved Nov. 13 as part of accounts payable, Village Attorney Nancy Harbottle said.

The board did rescind bonuses for contractors. One contractor would have received $300. Two others hired this year weren't scheduled to receive bonuses.

The village does not offer health benefits or a retirement plan to employees, Trustee Stephen Henley said. The Christmas bonus is one benefit they do get, he said.

The village's four full-time employees and a sole contractor have received bonuses every year except one, Village President Burnell Russell said.

But at least one member, Trustee Chrissi Steffani-Wardlow, said she didn't think the employees should get bonuses this year.

"In the economic status we're in right now and that we're going to have to ask them to pay more money in taxes for water and these types of expenditures coming up, I don't see us in a climate where we can issue Christmas bonuses in addition to any type of salary increase," she said.

The village is looking to change its water source from ground water to Lake Michigan. While that means it wouldn't have to worry about extending its radium removal contract, building a pipeline to connect to the current system would be costly.

Joining the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency’s system, a nine-village cooperative, would cost $50 million collectively for five interested communities, Russell said. Volo’s portion would be about 7 percent.

The village doesn't have a cost estimate for the pipeline, but $500 to $600 per household was cited in an informational meeting, Russell said. That number was prepared by the North-West Lake County Lake Michigan Water Planning Group and is based on a plan that is a "distant alternative" to what Volo is thinking, said city engineer Peter Stoehr.

The village board also decided Tuesday to give Russell the authority to spend $9,900 for an engineering survey if he determines that another route in supplying water has become viable. The cooperative the village is considering joining advised against the study, saying the route would be expensive, Russell said.

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