GT administrator gets $3,000 raise

Nate Alger

TRAVERSE CITY — Nate Alger will be getting a $3,000 raise for his performance during his first 10 months as Grand Traverse County administrator, bringing his annual salary to $130,720.

Alger took the county’s reins on July 1, 2018, after being selected on a 4-3 vote by previous county commissioners. He previously was the undersheriff and, for several months before his hire, served on a three-member interim county administration team.

His starting annual salary was $124,000. That rose by 3 percent when former commissioners approved an across-the-board wage increase for all county employees as part of the 2019 budget.

Alger’s contract also provides for other benefits including a $500 monthly car allowance to cover gas and mileage and $2,000 for membership in professional organizations, such as Rotary International.

The contract calls for an annual performance evaluation by county commissioners. The criteria are to be developed jointly by Alger and commissioners, per the contract. A $3,000 raise is given if he meets or exceeds expectations.

Six commissioners individually evaluated Alger’s relations with the county board; strategic planning; leadership and relations with staff; and financial management. They rated him as meeting or exceeding expectations in all areas.

The November election ushered in five new commissioners — Betsy Coffia, Rob Hentschel, Brad Jewett, Bryce Hundley and Gordie La Pointe — who took office in January. Commissioners Ron Clous and Sonny Wheelock Jr. were the only two incumbents to retain their seats.

“Since we’ve been here, he seems to be doing a good and professional job and seems to have the buy-in,” Hundley said. “I think the biggest thing from me is, after the number of years of turmoil or challenges in the Governmental Center, he seems to have the support of the people in the building and that counts for a lot.”

Coffia didn’t submit an evaluation, saying she wanted to work with Alger for more than four months before doing so.

Alger is the fourth person to serve as full-time administrator since 2015.

Dave Benda served from June 2012 to May 1, 2015. Tom Menzel began Nov. 17, 2015, and left around Sept. 1, 2017. Vicki Uppal started a few days after Menzel left, but only stuck around until mid-January 2018.

Jean Derenzy acted as interim county administrator from Jan. 17 to Feb. 28, 2018. She was followed by a three-member team of Alger, then undersheriff; Finance Director Dean Bott; and then-Deputy Civil Counsel Chris Forsyth, who in December was named deputy county administrator.

“Being part of the Administrator hiring process I cast my yes vote with ‘high expectations’ for Mr. Alger so for me to give a mark of ‘exceeds expectations’ Nate wood (sic) be short of walking on water,” wrote Clous, who gave all meets expectations marks. “The county administration gained a high level of ethics and integrity with the hiring of Nate Alger.”

Alger is extremely professional and has “above-average qualities,” Hentschel said. Alger is the third administrator he’s worked with, said Hentschel, who served as a commissioner in the 2011-12 term and was involved in the hiring of Benda.

“As far as working with people and commissioners, we’re all very opinionated and he (Alger) has a way of staying neutral that’s very impressive,” Hentschel said. “He has subtle ways of reminding me there’s more than one side of an issue without disagreeing with me. I think that helps the board as a whole understand each other’s perspectives.”

Alger said he’s honored to receive the marks he did and pleased with the comments commissioners made.

“I really love this job. I love the busyness of it,” he said. “I’m still learning. I wish that the commissioners on a daily or monthly basis would give me pointers. We can grow together.”

To read commissioners evaluation forms, visit