FORTVILLE — A conflict between the Fortville Town Council and Clerk-Treasurer Marcie Stafford, which led to the council requesting her resignation, is showing no signs of a resolution.
“You will not get my resignation,” Stafford defiantly told the council on Monday night.
The council and Stafford have been battling over the state of the town’s books and the way Stafford has been doing her job. They point to unpaid invoices, problems with utility billing and other issues. Stafford says the council has repeatedly refused to pay for a deputy in her office and that her workload is unmanageable.
Councilwoman Janet Manship said the council has not received monthly reports on the town’s finances, and she cited the fact that the council was signing off on bills and vouchers from April 2013 only last month.
At that meeting, council members were so upset that they passed a measure demanding Stafford, who was elected in 2011, to resign. The clerk-treasurer position is an elected post, and Stafford cannot be removed by an act of the council.
“We have reiterated repeatedly. If that was an issue, it should have been addressed a year ago. Not now,” Manship said of the overdue invoices.
According to Stafford, she has been trying to address the issue with the utility account. She blamed the problem on the accounting software, which has failed repeatedly to reconcile the account.
Stafford suggested the council is partly to blame because it hasn’t provided funding to pay a deputy clerk to handle some of those duties.
“The council ties the clerk’s hands by not providing necessary staff to efficiently run this office…” she said.
Council members said Stafford has yet to go through the proper channels to request help.
“The only request (Stafford) did make was someone to assist with shredding and going through files last winter, which was approved, but (Stafford) did not utilize that,” Manship said.
The battle between the clerk and the council intensified last month, when Stafford’s office presented invoices from April 2013 through December 2013. They were not paid until last month. The council was also growing concerned about invoices that inaccurately reflected their appropriate due date.
Some bills were coming in late to the clerk’s office, giving what Stafford said was little control over incurring late payments or penalties.
“I’m sorry, but tell me a clerk that never ever in their career has had a late payment,” Stafford said.
Council members said they had made a good-faith effort to reconcile problems with utility billing, going so far as to have a meeting with state officials and representatives of the company that provides the billing software. But Stafford left the meeting after becoming frustrated, they said, and no resolution was reached.
Stafford used an event in 2012 to demonstrate her frustration.
“Although the council is not my boss, I was written up for neglecting my duties pertaining to payroll, on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, the day I buried my son,” Stafford said. “The sad part is I was going to come in and do payroll when I realized it was payday. I am still waiting on an apology for that.”
Manship denied that claim.
Marcie’s son, 19-year-old Logan Stafford, was killed in a vehicle crash at Ind. 9 and CR 1000N on his way to see his mother on Dec. 13, 2012.
With no truce in sight, the council hasn’t withdrawn its request that Stafford resign.
“We have reached a point of no return,” said Councilman Ron Stafford, who is not related to Marcie. “We are not getting what we need. The public isn’t getting what they need.”