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Cloverdale hires deputy clerk, looks to raise utility rates

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cloverdale Clerk Treasurer Cheryl Galloway will soon have a new deputy. The town council passed a motion Thursday to hire a new utility clerk. This will allow the current utility clerk to become Galloway's deputy.

Council president Don Sublett came to the council in support of hiring a new deputy clerk to help Galloway with all of her duties.

"Cheryl is working many nights and weekends," explained Sublett. 'Just go in there and look at her office. Spend five minutes and take a look at what she is dealing with."

Galloway took over the clerk treasurer seat when former treasurer Cathleen Monaco's term was up. Since taking over, Galloway has repeatedly spoken to the board about her workload and not grasping the key concepts to get her on track.

"I need someone to talk to and ask questions to all the time," said Galloway. "That's my goal to be like 'I can do this' and eventually get rid of them (support staff from such places as O.W. Krohn and Associates)."

The plan, which both Galloway and Sublett presented to the board was the hiring of a new part-time utility clerk. The position will have no benefits and work only four days a week at $10 per hour. Current utility clerk Brittany Duncan would then move up to fill the position as deputy clerk with a slight pay increase of $3,000 to her salary.

"There's a lot of good things with this, but there's going to be a lot of things that need to be shuffled around," said council vice president Dennis Padgett.

Although the council agreed to the new hire, there will be several steps to go through to make it work such as a public meeting to adjust the salary ordinance, as it currently does not contain a chief deputy.

"Various parts will require notice of a public hearing," explained town attorney Allan Yackey. "There will be a process involving a number of things including a special appropriation to the salary ordinance."

Galloway is also expected to make a motion to make Duncan her chief deputy during the next meeting. As chief deputy, Duncan will be allowed to sign checks and do several other duties in place of the clerk treasurer in the event of an emergency.

Through the past few months Galloway has had several people from such places as Krohn and Associates as well as various others to help her with the Keystone System. Each time the council pays a significant amount of money for their help. However, Galloway feels that only having someone there for one day is doing little to no good.

"Everyone's been crying that we have no money," explained board member Gary Bennington. "I want to know where that money will be coming from."

The board agreed to take on the salary of the new utility clerk, which will be Merna Sutherland, as well as the increase in pay for Duncan, $3,000 out of the general fund.

"If she just keeps hiring people at $5,000, $7,000, $9,000 we're going to end up at $23,000 anyway," said Padgett.

The council also heard from both Sublett and Galloway regarding a large sum of money that was taken out of the general fund by mistake.

Both Sublett and Galloway met with Krohn and Associates on Thursday afternoon to find that $100,000 was taken out of the general fund to pay for wastewater.

"State law says that it must be paid back in one year," explained Sublett. "That's just not going to happen. It's going to take two years."

According to the Krohn associate, the money was taken out after hearing from an associate at the Indiana State Board of Accounts say that it was ok.

"It was a major mistake," Sublett said.

Going along with the mistake, Sublett suggested trying to stop the utility rate study by Umbaugh, which the board approved during last month's meeting, as the board had a similar study done already.

"We've done things to try to help," explained Padgett. "It may not be that much now, but we're still running in the red. That is why this study needs to be done to see how much (in the red we are)."

Sublett strongly suggested raising utility rates to try and offset the costs. He went back to previous years, stating that the board did not raise costs enough or at all to help with the debt they are now finding themselves in.

"We should have had a rate increase in 2011, but it didn't happen," said Sublett. "If we don't raise rates the state is going to come down here take us over. That's a fact."

The board made no decision on whether or not to raise the utility rates. They are however expected to have more discussion and some possible decision-making during next month's meeting on May 10.

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Mr. Sublett is an embarrassment to himself. It was he and Padgett who insisted that the assistant to the Clerk be eliminated in a special meeting in Dec. '10 if memory serves.

That "cost-cutting" move has costs the Town double with the extra training and consultants.

The Town could save $60-80,000 per year if the babysitter hours paid to Yakey were reduced or eliminated. When is the Town going to have the courage to do the job they were elected for?

-- Posted by sassylass on Sat, Apr 28, 2012, at 7:34 AM

Our town board is and has been a running joke for years. There solution to everything is to raise the rates. I wish the state would take us over!!! They act like our federal government - just spend and raise! Why dont people stand up for their money and attend the meetings and speak up. People will keep leaving the the towns limits to get into cataract water....

-- Posted by cloverfromafar on Mon, Apr 30, 2012, at 2:55 PM

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