CLOVERDALE -- During a special meeting Saturday, the Cloverdale Town Council voted 3-to-2 to de-fund the deputy-clerk's position in the 2010 Salary Ordinance. This will leave the town the ability to hire an additional utility worker.
The utility department has been shorthanded for several years and is suffering from an overload of work in need of attention. But the final vote to cut funding for the deputy-clerk's $28,700-per-year salary didn't come easy for the council.
With council members Terry Puffer, Kathy Tipton and Dennis Padgett voting in favor of the cut and vice president Steve Caulkins and president Don Sublett voting against it, there was much discussion before a decision was reached.
Clerk-treasurer Patti Truax presented council members with one alternative -- to adjust figures in funds which salaries are paid. She felt this choice would enable the town to keep the deputy-clerk and hire the additional laborer.
"You can't adjust figures and have everything be wonderful," said Padgett.
In addition, there is a limit on the use of utility revenue (a fund Truax suggested adjusting the percentage of salary coming from it), noted Alan Yackey, the town's attorney.
Yet another option put on the table was by Padgett, who proposed to make the deputy-clerk a part-time employee. However, the savings of approximately $10,000 including benefits would not be enough for another utility worker to be hired.
After no motion was made to approve the ordinance with the deputy-clerk's salary included, Puffer said there had to be a cut in the clerk's office to possibly provide more workers on the street.
"So you are going to short-change me and get more laborers?" asked Truax.
The inevitable answer was yes.
Padgett said it was a tough decision to make. "We want to run the town efficiently," he added.
Before making his final vote, Caulkins acknowledged money was tight, but in his opinion, utility positions were eliminated once and now they are needed again. It may be the same fate for the clerk's office, regardless of its new efficient Keystone software.
Following the approval of the 2010 Salary Ordinance, council members voted on health insurance for town employees. The five-member council unanimously voted to keep Anthem as its provider.
In other business:
* Padgett wanted to discuss the issue of security at the town hall, specifically the utility office. Earlier in the month, a stack of claim sheets was taken from the utility office.
Padgett asked if filing cabinets and the office door could be locked during business hours. He also wanted a limited number of people authorized to be in the utility office during the day.
"There are numerous important and privileged documents kept in that office," he said. "Vendors and town employees including town council members should be the only ones allowed in that office."
His suggestion was made into a motion and passed.
* Cloverdale resident Don Gedert approached the board regarding a utility bill issue. Gedert recently rented a home at 444 Stardust Way and thinks he has been double billed for the residence.
"I rented it in mid-October," he said, "and was billed on the fifth of November for 19 units in October. Then the customer received a bill at the first of December and was billed for 80-some units for October through December."
He was told to present his documentation to the utility office and utility superintendent Don Guthrie would get him an explanation.