Despite Winter Storm, Large Crowd Attends Town Council Meeting

Not a lot of business was decided during last Tuesday’s Crothersville Town Council meeting owing to a winter storm which dumped about three inches of snow then freezing rain and ice on southern Indiana.

While the weather kept some of those on the agenda from attending, it did not keep area residents from being on hand  at the standing room only meeting to voice their opinions on the resignation and appointments involving the Crothersville’s clerk-treasurer.

Former clerk-treasurer Michele Teipen resigned on Jan. 13 citing her move outside of the town limits. Republican County Chairwoman Melissa Acton appointed Terry Richey as the new clerk-treasurer. Richey then named Teipen as her first deputy. That move resulted in long-time town hall worker Alisa Sweazy being out of a job.

Richey said she intends to keep her job as Crothersville community Schools treasurer and be the town’s clerk-treasurer but not work daily in the town hall office. She wants the council to approve naming Teipen as the town hall office manager, a position she held while clerk-treasurer.

The salary for the clerk-treasurer’s job is $9,500 a year. The 1st deputy’s salary pay range is $11-$14 per hour; office manager’s position pays from $12-$15 per hour.

Council president Ardell Mitchell, told the crowd that anyone with anything to say would be given the opportunity “but we will conduct this meeting in a civil and respectful manner.”

Local resident Danieta Foster questioned the timeline of Teipen’s resignation, Richey’s appointment and appointment of Teipen as first deputy.

“It all seemed to be decided before hand,” she said. “No one in town knew of the resignation. Other people might have been interested in the job.”

The clerk-treasurer can appoint the first deputy with the approval of the town council, the council president said.

Mitchell said there was a legal side of the issue and a moral side. “Was the legal side followed? As far as I can see, yes it was.”

Compounding the discussion were agenda items which could not be addressed because town attorney Jeff Lorenzo was unable to attend the meeting due to the weather.

The council wanted to consider a separation of duties ordinance which would not automatically make the clerk-treasurer also the office manager as past practice as occurred.

“Separation is good so the town isn’t forced to have the clerk-treasurer as the office manager,” said Mitchell.

“But it may make it hard to find candidates to run for a job that only pays $9,500 a year,” said former clerk-treasurer Nalona Bush.

“I’ve had two people tell me they would be interested if the job were part-time,” Mitchell said.

Bush pointed out that the office manager’s salary was split between the water and sewer utility. “If she doesn’t want the pay, it stays in water and sewer,” she said.

Because the attorney and ordinance were not able to make the meeting the separation ordinance was tabled.

The new clerk-treasurer’s request to gain council approval of Teipen being named office manager and increase her salary from the present $13.41 per hour to $14.50 was also tabled until the matter of the separation ordinance could be acted upon.

“Until we get this separation ordinance resolved, I’m not comfortable with taking action on office manager,” said Mitchell.

Likewise the clerk-treasurer’s request to increase the second deputy’s salary to $10.75 was also tabled.

In a related matter, council Lenvel ‘Butch’ Robinson said he thought the town hall should be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Currently the town offices are closed on Wednesday afternoon. His suggestion that a time clock be installed for town office workers to use did not gain any support, however, the council will consider reviewing town hall office hours when they meet in March.

One matter the council did approve was Robinson’s motion to install of a new flagpole and light to illuminate the flag. The motion passed 3-0.