Shiawassee County commissioner calls on chairman to resign over bonus payments

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 11:51 AM EDT
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SHIAWASSEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - A Shiawassee County commissioner is calling on the board chairman to resign after a controversial series of lucrative COVID-19 bonus payments.

Commissioner Gregory Brodeur said Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeremy Root should leave his position as chairman and county commissioner immediately.

Brodeur wasn’t at the July 15 meeting when the bonuses were approved for elected county officials and employees. Root, Sheriff Brian BeGole and other top county officials received bonuses of $25,000 apiece from the county’s $13.3 million share of COVID-19 relief money.

Two other commissioners and elected department heads like the clerk, treasurer and prosecutor received $10,000 bonuses. Other commissioners and several other county officials received $5,000 while rank-and-file county employees each received $1,000 to $2,500.

Prosecutor Scott Koerner called the payments unconstitutional and several elected officials, including himself and the sheriff, pledged to return their bonuses to the county.

Commissioner Marlene Webster said discussion about the bonuses happened in closed session, which she questioned. She said commissioners only were told that bonuses would average $2,148 per person, but they never received a list how much each person would receive.

A Genesee County judge ordered the county to halt COVID-19 bonus payments and will allow commissioners another chance to allocate the money during their next meeting.

Brodeur said Root wasn’t up front about giving himself a $25,000 bonus, so he no longer is capable of leading the county board. Root hasn’t said whether he would return the money.

“I think the bulk of the responsibility, the way this was handled the lack of information, to his fellow commissioners was his responsibility -- his failure,” Brodeur said. “Whether through intent or not, I cannot speak to his mind. Since that period, the things he has said has exacerbated the situation.”

Brodeur said he informed Root about his intention to call for his resignation and that Root wasn’t happy about it.

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