Village council names fiscal officer


ST. PARIS – The village council appointed Penni Zerkle to fill the fiscal officer vacancy during the regular meeting Monday.

Zerkle has worked for the First Central National Bank of St. Paris over six years and said her experience in budgeting money and paying bills will help in this position.

The appointment came less than a month after the resignation of long-time fiscal officer Cathlyn Adkins, who resigned effective Dec. 11.

Council agreed to offer a contract to a potential candidate during the Dec. 21 meeting, but Mayor Joe Reneer said Monday the candidate declined the offer after receiving a counter offer from a current employer.

Reneer said the interview process continued with him, Village Administrator Joe Sampson and council member Larry Watkins conducting more interviews.

“This is the person that I felt did the best through the interview process and that is the person I wish to stand behind,” Reneer said.

After asking Zerkle some questions, council approved her appointment 4-1, with council member Tyler Adkins, who is married to Cathlyn Adkins, voting against the appointment.

Prior to voting, Mr. Adkins said he felt the fiscal officer appointment process should go back to being decided through an election to prevent what he called “shenanigans” from happening again.

“It’s the way it was for years and you guys changed it for a reason and now all of a sudden that reason is gone and now it needs to go back to the people to decide,” Mr. Adkins said. Following the vote, Mr. Adkins told Zerkle his vote was not against her skills but because he felt some things were done wrong.

Council member Jana Crawford disagreed saying it would take Zerkle six months to transition to the job and an elected official would have go through the transition phase every two to four years.

An ordinance passed in May 2007 created the position of the village’s fiscal officer combining the duties of a clerk and treasurer. The ordinance states the position shall be appointed by the mayor, but the appointment does not become effective until it is approved by a majority vote of the village legislative authority.

Sampson stated on Tuesday that Zerkle will work a 40-hour week with an annual salary starting at $25,000 plus full benefits. He added her start date should be Jan. 18.

Council vacancy

Council also discussed the current council seat vacancy due to the resignation of former council member Brad Kennedy in December.

Reneer said anyone who wants to be considered for nomination should contact him by Friday.

“I am accepting nominations. The individual who I think will succeed will probably be the person that I will bring up for nomination,” Reneer said. “Then it will be up to council to decide whether they want to keep that nomination or whether they want to not accept my nomination.”

Next council date moved

Council will hold the next meeting on Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m. The decision to move the council meeting by one day was approved after Sampson informed council that village offices are closed on Jan. 18 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

During the Dec. 21 meeting, council tabled action on a memorandum of understanding with Champaign County Local Food Council in order to invite the food council to a meeting.

The memorandum states the food council and village would use the former St. Paris fire station as a shared use commercial kitchen allowing for certain food products and items to be made in a certified commercial kitchen.

Sampson said on Monday he contacted the food council, which agreed to hold a presentation prior to the Jan. 18 meeting. Council authorized Sampson to ask the food council to hold their presentation at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 19 during a work session.

Reneer stated if a Level 2 snow emergency is in effect in the county at 5:30 p.m. the day of a council meeting or work session, the meeting will be canceled and rescheduled.

In other action:

•Council approved the 2016 appropriations.

•Council approved an amendment to a zoning ordinance allowing property located at 11509 W. U.S. Route 36 to be rezoned from non-conforming to an R1 property.

•The Pony Wagon Committee meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Harmon Park Building.

•Council nominated council member Niven Jester as the temporary president of council.

•The village is conducting Christmas tree pickup for free through the end of January. Residents are asked to put the trees by the curb. The service will cost $25 after the end of the month.

By Nick Walton

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Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.

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