FORTVILLE — With the Fortville clerk-treasurer position being contested on the May primary election ballot, voters in Fortville will have a choice about who will handle the town’s record-keeping.
Challenging incumbent Marcie Stafford for the Republican nomination is Sherry Durbin, 43, a Fortville resident and full-time business assistant at a dental office on the west side of Indianapolis.
Durbin — married to Fortville Police Officer Doug Durbin and the mother of three children ages 10, 15 and 22 — said she sees room to improve the functioning of the clerk-treasurer’s office, both in terms of efficiency and its relationship with the Fortville Town Council.
“The clerk is not providing (council members) with the information necessary for them to make the right decisions for the town,” Durbin said.
She said she had been interested in the clerk-treasurer position prior to the last election four years ago but was unsure she wanted to leave her job at the time to pursue public office.
But that has changed, at least in part because of what she said she has seen at town council meetings she has been attending. She said she has seen the council request information on budgets and not receive it, which has been a source of tension at the meetings.
In addition to making sure she provides budget information in a timely manner, she hopes to “bring them (council members) to peace and get along, and work hand-in-hand with them.”
Two other related goals Durbin said she would pursue would be making sure deposits are being made on a daily basis and keeping regular business hours from Monday to Friday so the public, council members and department heads can reach her and get the answers they need when they need them.
Durbin earned her GED from the Ebbert Education Center, part of Anderson Community Schools. After that, she entered the workforce and has been manager of a pizza restaurant and an apartment complex. She said those jobs, and more importantly her current job at a dental office, which she has held for seven years, have provided her with a strong foundation in record-keeping, skills that would transfer well to the clerk-treasurer position.
Durbin said she plans “to run a clean and fair campaign that reflects who I am.”
She said she will be putting out yard signs and going door to door to meet residents and business owners to introduce herself and let people know she would be there for them if elected.
It’s a position she expects to have to prove herself in if she were to serve more than one term; otherwise “I wouldn’t expect them to vote me back in.”
Looking retain the position is Stafford, who is serving her first term in office.
“I’m the best person for the job — you can’t buy 32 years of knowledge,” Stafford said.
Stafford, 54, is a Fortville native and graduate of Mt. Vernon High School and Ball State University. She is married and the mother of three children (one of whom is deceased).
She worked for the Hamilton East Public Library in Noblesville for 10 years prior to becoming clerk-treasurer in 2012. At the library, she was a bookkeeper, reporting to the business manager.
Prior to that, she served as a utility clerk for Fortville, often helping the clerk-treasurer with her duties.
Stafford said besides being a detail-oriented person who takes whatever time is necessary to balance records to the penny, she is also one to watch every last one of those pennies.
“I love my job. I love what I do,” she said.
One example of streamlining she cited was having software for payments moved from individual computers to a server, so a clunky system involving paper receipts and multiple people at the office could be computer-based and involve just one person.
An example of where she saved the town money involved eliminating payment for the employer portion of taxes for Fortville police working overtime in some cases, she said.
The county was receiving grants for drunken-driving patrols, which local officers performed as overtime. The grants paid the salaries, but the town was paying the employer portion of taxes. The town now gets reimbursed $1.30 for every hour worked in such cases.
Stafford said she has a thorough understanding of all the duties and state laws, including which reports must be sent to the Department of Local Government Finance and the Indiana State Board of Accounts.
Stafford readily admits her relationship with the town council has been rocky but said it’s been a function a growing list of responsibilities and there not being enough time to complete the work herself, even working the 50 or 60 hours a week, she said, is typical.
One example of this growing list is the reporting required to the state for the town pension plan. Stafford said there used to be one plan that required four reports annually.
The law has changed to require a report each pay period, or 26 times per year. Then the police department went to a different plan than the rest of the town, requiring its own 26 reports annually.
“There’s a lot more to do, so much more on the bank statement, so much transferring money online,” Stafford said. “There’s just so much more room for error, and they’re not my errors; my stuff is right.”
Stafford alerted the council to the need for more help to get the work done early in her term, and members approved hiring a part-time deputy clerk in August this year.
She said she has been just as frustrated as town council members with the situation.
“I would like nothing more than for everyone to be happy and get along,” she said. “When I started, I was that breath of fresh air and opened those lines of communication. I want to please them and show them what I’m about.”
If re-elected, Stafford said she will continue to streamline functions to save time and continue to work to make the town compliant with state requirements.
She said she also will make a push to implement “certain changes in the work flow … that will enable me to provide that information everybody wants.
“Then maybe everybody will be happy.”