EagleHerald Staff Writer
MENOMINEE—Interim City Manager and Police Chief Brett Botbyl backpedaled slightly last week on his interest in being considered for the city manager position left vacant in July when former City Manager Tony Graff resigned.
“Like I said, I’m not sure we can live together,” Botbyl told members of the Judicial and Legislative/Personnel and Labor Committee Thursday. “Sometimes families need separate houses. It’s easy for me to walk across the hall” to the police department. ”I love my job over there. Do I have apprehension about coming over here? Yes, I do. I’ll be honest.”
Botbyl made the comments after committee chair William Plemel asked whether the city manager position should be posted. The committee spent most of the meeting talking about the selection process for granting marijuana companies permits to operate in Menominee. Botbyl sat on the marijuana rubric scoring committee along with Fire Chief Mark Petersen and former City Engineer and Public Works Director Tricia Alwin. Alwin’s position also is vacant, and Botbyl suggested separating the city engineer position from the public works director position.
The city also is looking for a building inspector. The new city engineer could possibly fill in on building inspections if qualified. “Right now, I’m just trying to keep our head above water,” Botbyl said.
Botbyl said his comments about the city manager position don’t reflect a lack of interest in the City of Menominee. “Again, I have a vested interest in this community. I want it to succeed. I want nothing but the best,” he said. He said his apprehension is about the budget and the constraints it might place on the city manager.
“We have a revenue problem. We have a limited footprint on what we can do,” he said. He doesn’t consider it realistic to raise property taxes on homes. “We’re already one of the higher-taxed municipal cities in the state. We’re stuck. We’re maxed out here,” he said. “So there are some issues. I want to ensure I’m not steering the ship while it goes sideways on something I had nothing to do with. I love the job that I’m doing right now.”
The next few years will be challenging because of the budget, said Council Member Frank Pohlmann. “Whoever sits in this chair, whoever sits in this office over there for the next three or four years, they will be very challenging years, much more challenging than the last 10 years as far as the budget is concerned. We have obviously the benefit of the reserve (fund), but it only goes so far,” Pohlmann said. “The revenue problem is not as easy to correct for the city as you might think. There might be still some expenditure discussions. It’s not pleasant.”
“It’s not. I agree,” Botbyl said.
Botbyl suggested he would stay interim city manager at least until the end of the year, “and we’re not there yet,” he said. “I will give you fair warning.“ Regardless of who is named city manager, Botbyl said he would ensure a smooth transition.