City council approves city manager candidate
By Jenny Johnson – City council has voted to move forward in offering Joseph Merucci the job of city manager. Merucci, 54, is currently city manager in Lincoln Park and has 28 years experience in Garden City, Pleasant Ridge, Fowlerville and Clawson. He was born and raised in southeast Michigan and currently resides in Clawson. He has a Bachelor’s degree in political science from University of Michigan and a Master’s degree in public administration from Wayne State University. He is no stranger to cities with financial problems. Merucci said Wayne is about one year behind Lincoln Park financially and he has the experience to help. “I have quite a bit of experience doing something I never thought could be done,” he said. When asked about his relationship with his employees he said, “My employees see me. I visit the DPW. I am a hands on person. I have gone to school for this and have 28 years experience. They will see me at the Police Department. I am accessible to them.” Merucci said Lincoln Park has gone from 200 employees to 88. The police and fire departments and DPW are “almost totally eliminated.”
He said in Wayne the first thing that has to get done is “you’ve got to get control of your expenditures.” He would immediately start working with the finance department and come up with a model of what you need to attain. “You need to identify all of your contracts with collective bargaining, planners, services, lawyers. All of those need to be examined to find out if they are in the best interest of the city,” he said. Mayor Pro Tem Jim Hawley asked, “Are there any positive things we can be looking at? What can you bring to the table?” Merucci said he has had a lot of experience with DDAs in other communities. He has been involved in either forming or reinvigorating DDAs. He also thinks the Main Street designation is a “golden opportunity” for the city. Wayne has the railroad, Michigan Avenue and good schools. “People will move where they want to move because of what they are interested in. You need to find out what they are looking for,” he said. Merucci was involved in bringing Walmart to Fowlerville. “I instituted a program we developed especially because we knew they were coming. We had pre meetings with staff and the Walmart site plan was approved in one meeting because I prepped my employees. We went to a training session on how to attract big box stores,” he said. “We were fair and they came and provided 300 jobs and put huge money in the DDA.” Merucci asked what are the main issues in Wayne besides financial problems. Council told him that the residents want to be able to shop in Wayne and don’t want to see vacant storefronts. Councilman Skip Monit said, “Citizens are concerned neighborhoods need to be brought back to the way they were in the past. There are a lot of foreclosures and less home ownership than we want to see. “ Councilman Jim Henley said, ”We have a good infrastructure of buildings. But we have low morale because of the budget. The fire and Parks and Recreation need a pair of outside eyes to look and technology infrastructure is way behind.” Wayne City Council voted to offer a contract to Joseph Merucci. They 3-year contract will give Merucci a salary of $99,000 per year and a 6-month severance package. If Merucci accepts the position he could begin this position in May.