Wapella board returns village clerk to salary


WAPELLA — The Wapella village board met in special session Tuesday to approve the hiring of a new village clerk.

During its regular October meeting, the board debated the merits of having a hired clerk versus an appointed one. 

The board at that meeting was about to vote to continue its clerk as an hourly employee.  But trustees at that time felt the temporary measure should be discontinued.

On the agenda October 16 was a measure to hire acting clerk Max Schwartz, when the discussion turned to the difference between a hired clerk and one the board appoints.  As a hired position, the clerk receives an hourly rate; an appointed clerk is paid a monthly salary.

Board president Bryan Atwood was about to introduce a motion to hire Schwartz at $13.50 an hour when trustees interrupted to question why Schwartz would not be sworn in as an appointee.

Atwood said Schwartz would lose money if she were appointed rather than hired.

“If you’re doing this for the money, you’re doing it for the wrong reason,” said trustee Mandy Huff during that meeting.

Huff and other trustees pointed out that the village went $13,000 over budget in the previous fiscal year for clerk wages.  Normally, the clerk receives about $6,864 a year performing the clerk and collector jobs, $350 a month as clerk, $222 a month as collector, according to information from the ordinance read by the village attorney.

Under the previous board president, more pay was authorized for the clerk on a temporary basis to correct some village record keeping problems.  But, on October 16, trustees said those problems were now solved, so the temporary situation was finished.

Atwood felt, however, that Schwartz’ pay should not be reduced.

“She’s been doing a great job,” Atwood said.

Trustee Sherry Mears said since the problems were solved, fewer hours should be necessary to perform the clerk’s job.

Atwood asked to table the matter until the board’s November meeting.

At the special meeting this week, Schwartz was absent and former village clerk Lauren Thompson was in the clerk’s chair ready to assume responsibilities.

Atwood also was absent Tuesday, owing to a personal obligation, trustees reported.

Trustees voted to hire Thompson on an hourly basis through November 1 at a rate of $13.50 an hour, at which time she became salaried.

Swearing in Thompson as an appointee was tabled until the board’s November 13 meeting.

The board also table the appointment of a new trustee, assigning village department heads and accepting a letter of resignation.

In additional business on Tuesday, trustees approved the fiscal year budget through June 30, 2019 and tabled a discussion about the tentative tax levy ordinance.

Wapella residents also should expect a water rate increase because of the increase in cost for chemicals used at the village water plant.

The City of Clinton increases local water rates each year by about 2 percent because of the same increase in the cost of water plant chemicals.  The city chooses incremental increases yearly rather than larger increases less frequently.