EM seeks stability with new appointments

By GABRIEL GOODWIN
Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK — The city’s emergency manager appointed a full-time city administrator and police chief last month, while actively seeking to fill more positions within the city soon.

Emergency Manager Joyce Parker appointed Karen Folks as city administrator August 14, and confirmed James Wilkewicz has been appointed as the permanent chief of police. He previously held the position on an interim basis.

Folks, however, is a new addition to the city. Before accepting the job with Allen Park, she was the city attorney for Ecorse and spent about 20 years in a management capacity, with 13 years working directly with municipalities, like Flint and Saginaw. This experience, she said, allowed her to be “fully familiar with municipal operations.”

Folks said Allen Park is in “a unique (situation), but it isn’t at the same time” because the financial situation and need for an emergency manager is not new to her, but the situation that got the city there is. She was drawn to the city, she said, because the challenges the city has to overcome presents a work environment like no other.

“I’m not sure if it is the challenge part of it that I found so enticing, but I like being a part of a change oriented team,” she said. “I enjoy challenges and I am a results-outcome driven type of person. Typically, those kinds of work environments create their own energy, their own excitement. I enjoy it.”

A selection panel reviewed about 60 resumes and selected six candidates to interview with Parker making the final decision to appoint Folks. Parker said she was considered highly by the council and the staff who were part of the selection panel and believed Folks’ overall fit within the city played a major role in her decision.

Parker said Folks’ previous legal experience could help the city cut costs by preparing or reviewing certain legal documents so the city would not have to regularly consult an outside law firm. Folks received a law degree from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School and has experience as a legal advisor.

Both hope to make the city more efficient and offer more stability to the residents. Parker said she is considering ways to reopen city hall on Fridays, while Folks said she would like to find and execute the best, most efficient practices.

“It’s about listening to the community to determine new directions,” Folks said. “But, it’s also looking at how do we take what we have and figuring out ways to reorganize it to come up with more efficiencies.”

This appointment means Interim City Administrator David Boomer would return to his duties as the building and electrical inspector, and the economic development director. Parker said this transition may be temporary because she is looking to reorganize the duties of some employees. The reorganization, she said, could include Boomer’s position but would not elaborate. Sources familiar with Boomer said he may retire in October after he becomes eligible.

Parker also appointed a new financial director to take over for the previously contracted Plante Moran. Parker did not give anymore details regarding the position.

There are plans to replace the six positions vacated within the police and fire departments in the near future, she said, along with finalizing the contracts for Fire Chief Douglas LaFond and Deputy Chief David Servetter.

The salary for the newly appointed city administrator was in the low $90,000 range, which Parker said was “within the scope” of previous administrators’ salaries. Wilkewicz’s salary was not available because his contract is still being reviewed by the Michigan Department of Treasury.

. (Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at ggoodwin@bewickpublications.com.)

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