FORTVILLE –— Repeated requests for information. A unanimous vote to request her resignation. A judicial act to force her to do her duties.
The Fortville Town Council has resorted to some tough tactics as it continues to battle with Clerk-Treasurer Marcie Stafford over her job performance.
On Tuesday – a day after the council, during discussion at a regularly scheduled meeting, again took her to task – Stafford said she does not plan to resign. She said the office’s problems – which mostly include unpaid bills – would likely disappear if she could hire a deputy clerk.
“Getting a deputy clerk hired (is the answer),” Stafford said. “And people believing what I say when I say it. My knowledge of my job has never been questioned. Nobody can call into question my knowledge of my job.”
Stafford said the issues have come up because of the nature of the work. If she was able to perform the clerk-treasurer duties without being distracted by other town business, things would already be going much more smoothly.
“I’m only one person. Everything in my job is priority. I’ve tried to point this out to them. Everything is right now; immediate,” Stafford said.
Because of the distractions, Stafford said, she often works in the town office at night when no one is there so she can better focus on her work.
But the council has taken actions to circumvent the clerk-treasurer, who was elected in 2011.
For example, the council has authorized town manager Joe Renner to increase the limit on the town’s credit card; add his name to the town’s accounts at the bank to provide signing authority; and to issue checks or otherwise ensure payment of necessary bills. The council stipulated that Renner pay only those bills that are “true emergencies,” according to town attorney Alex Intermill.
That means a number of other bills still are going unpaid, Councilwoman Janet Manship noted.
The council also recently voted to pursue legal action against Stafford.
“It’s also important to know that as a council we have tried repeatedly to rectify these issues directly with the clerk, individually with the clerk and through our attorneys, and we’re still facing similar problems,” Manship said. “That’s what caused us to take this more drastic measure.”
The goal, according to Manship, is to simply get the duties fulfilled.
Commencing the litigation against the clerk-treasurer will come at a cost to the town, though the amount has yet to be determined.
“We’re at a Waterloo. Do your job, and if you can’t do your job, you’ve got a decision to make,” Councilman Ron Stafford said. “We are taking steps to correct the whole thing.”
Marcie Stafford, who is no relation to the councilman, said that she has hired an attorney, but she said she hopes that hiring a deputy clerk will be the solution.
“That person will have hours between (8 a.m. and 4 p.m.),” Stafford said. “That’s what the council wants.”
In the meantime, Stafford said she will continue working as the town’s clerk-treasurer.
“It’s my job, and I know I’m right and I still want to do the best job for the citizens at the least cost,” Stafford said. “I’m still doing the job. I’m still the clerk, and I’m still working. I’m a fighter. But it’s getting harder.”