Tensions rise between town council members on Cloverdale Utility Board

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

CLOVERDALE -- Tension was high at this month's Cloverdale Utility Board meeting Monday night. Already over budget with what seems like no way out, expenses just keep adding up.

The meeting started with a 10-minute public hearing, which passed the appropriation resolution, or budget, for next year that includes a 9.22 percent increase.

"We know our budget is high but we know some things will be cut," Cloverdale Clerk-Treasurer Cathleen Monaco said.

As the budget was passed, the utility board updated the public that the standpipe project is currently under way. Workers will begin efforts on the inside the tower, and it is expected to be finished by Oct. 28.

The most talked about item of the night was figuring out how to pay for Monaco's attorney, Jon Hughes. After only budgeting $4,000, his first bill has nearly used all of the budgeted money.

"She's entitled to an attorney and entitled to those legal fees," said Hughes.

As the board began to wonder, just why Hughes had to be present at each meeting, tensions grew. From August to December Hughes budgeted a total of $12,500.

"I'm not opposed to Cathleen having an attorney, we're just way over budget already," utility board Vice President Dennis Padgett said.

When the option of tabling the item came up, which would deny the clerk-treasurer her right to an attorney, Monaco finally reached her limit. As utility board President Cathy Tipton began questioning just what all the fees were for, Monaco began firing back at Tipton's every word.

"I'm entitled to an attorney, so I want one," explained Monaco.

The item was eventually tabled until the October meeting but the disagreement did not stop there.

As the board requested that Monaco provide an update on the minutes, which they have not received since last November, the room exploded.

"I told you, you'll get them when I have the time," Monaco said.

As Monaco tried to explain that her workload is too heavy, tension only grew between Tipton and Monaco.

"This is precisely why she needs an attorney," explained Hughes. "Every meeting I've been at her character seems to get attacked."

Utility board member Don Sublett attempted to diffuse the situation by suggesting volunteer services to help Monaco, but his suggestion remained unnoticed.

"You get so far behind then someone asks a question and we have no way to reference anything," said Padgett. "How do you run a town when you can't see what's going on?"

As Padgett suggested that he will walk out of next month's meeting if he is no presented with an update on the minutes, Monaco spoke up by firing back at Padgett, suggesting that he should be used to having no minutes from previous years.

The issue remains unresolved but in an effort to lighten Monaco's workload Tipton will now be creating all agendas for upcoming meetings. Also, Sublett will be contacting local schools in an attempt to find volunteers to help with updating the minutes.

The final order of business to be discussed was the grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. The grant would go toward helping fix and maintain the Doe Creek lift station. The town council was forced to decide during the meeting whether to take the $47,200 needed for the grant out of the general fund or lose the grant.

"We haven't been very successful in getting grants that are really useful," town attorney Alan Yackey said. "If you don't try, you don't have a chance"

The board eventually decided it was best if it passed the motion to take the matching funds for the grant out of the general fund in order to fix the lift station. If they had not come to this decision and decided to forego the grant, the risk would be having to pay more than $660,000 to fix it themselves.

The next Cloverdale Utility Board meeting will be Monday, Oct. 24.

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  • Glad to see Cloverdale is back to its old standards.

    -- Posted by exhoosier2 on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 12:07 AM
  • I was beginning to wonder what was wrong with the water in Cloverdale. Glad to hear things are back to normal. I think it's time fire and/or demote someone for no reason again. That should ensure things stay normal for at least another 12 months or so...

    -- Posted by jorge on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 1:34 AM
  • Very troubling. Let's see, the town spends, what? $40k? $70k a year for Yackey to babysit every meeting? Hey, there's an opportunity for some cost savings! How much has Yackey billed the town this year?

    What about medical insurance costs? The town could switch to a HDHP like so many small businesses have done and save thousands each month!

    Seems a couple of years back, the Town Clerk had a paid part-time assistant. Ever since that position was eliminated, first the Clerk quit and now her replacement cannot keep up.

    So many obvious solutions to everyday problems.

    -- Posted by letspulltogether on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 6:26 AM
  • Makes me glad I don't live in Clovertucky, but sounds like this Monaco charater needs to be REPLACED. It isn't as if she is running Chicago for heaven sakes. Cloverdale town meetings are always entertaining to read about.

    -- Posted by dcsaiht on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 8:34 AM
  • Wow! If anybody else was behind 11 months on their job (no updated mintues since November), they would have already been fired. If lawyers are at the meetings,you know they take notes. Can't the attorneys hand out the mintues? They are getting paid, the two of them can be useful for something.

    -- Posted by longtimecitizen on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 8:39 AM
  • Why is it the town's responsibility to pay for her attorney? If she can't do the job (what a surprise that is) maybe she should resign. Maybe the person who put her in that position as a "temporary" replacement should go too!

    -- Posted by indianaresident on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 9:00 AM
  • Because I am not a resident of Cloverdale, I've always found the town meetings entertaining. Please, someone explain to us why a Clerk-Treasurer has the right to an attorney? That is probably the single most confusing issue that has never been explained. What's up with this requirement?

    -- Posted by gunner on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 9:03 AM
  • Poor Fillmore. :-( Clovertucky done took the lime light back!!! Hahahahahahahaha!!

    -- Posted by whats-my-beef on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 9:16 AM
  • Why is the town council running the utility board and having THEIR attorney present? Monaco shouldn't have to be doing the minutes because she shouldn't be there (if the town was being responsibly run), there should be one council member representing them and the rest os the board from the public. What am I saying, the council is doing such a wonderful job why should people need other input.

    The clerk treasurer is allowed to obtain an attorney to defend her position. I find it very funny that the council wants to discredit Monaco for having an attorney but they cannot blow their nose without the great Yackey holding the hankey. They are not broke because of Monaco people, the town is going under because of the superbrains you have chose to run it.

    -- Posted by sadNmad on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 10:05 AM
  • If her job description calls for the clerk to take minutes and report them at the meetings, then that is what she should be doing. If not, then one of the board members needs to be appointed as secretary and he/she records and reports. Come on people, where is common sense in all of this? Why would board members be accepting of an employee not providing the minutes for almost a year? Is the clerk under the administration of the board members or is the board under the administration of the clerk. The latter is how it sounds to me.

    -- Posted by Cloverinterest on Thu, Sep 29, 2011, at 10:20 AM
  • I should come to one of your all meetings, just for a laugh, ill bring babybottles and passafires and pass them out. I'm not even educated and could probably run the town better than these gyes.

    -- Posted by etphonehome on Thu, Sep 29, 2011, at 3:17 PM
  • Glad I dont live in the town of Cloverdale, does anyone ever read the Indiana Code? does the State know of her violation of making the meeting minutes available to the public after every meeting? Why doesn't the Council do something about impeaching her from not doing her job?

    -- Posted by Nona on Sat, Oct 1, 2011, at 10:45 AM
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