Walbridge: Mayor, council at odds over hiring of fiscal officer

Larry Limpf

News Editor

Walbridge mayor Ed Kolanko has criticized members of council for what he says is dragging their feet on hiring a new fiscal officer.
Patty Crawford, the current fiscal officer, is retiring and has submitted a letter of resignation.
Council on June 19 voted against a recommendation by the mayor and Crawford to hire Andrew Tepper, tax compliance auditor for the City of Northwood, but didn’t propose an alternative, according to a July 26 email to council members from the mayor.
“Comments made during the council meeting last Wednesday (July 19) indicate various members of council previously discussed regional tax authorities used by other municipalities and a possible different method for income tax collection for Walbridge. There was no discussion about the candidate information council had access to weeks prior,” the mayor’s message says.
“So here we are…in an extremely difficult position. Council has turned down the recommendation and offered no solutions. There have been no committee meetings scheduled to discuss nor has there been any feedback given to me.”
Council members Karen Baron and Sue Hart-Douglas voted in favor of the mayor’s recommendation and Larry Boday, Vicki Canales-Pratt, and LaDenna Johnston voted against.
Some municipalities contract with the Regional Income Tax Agency to collect their municipal income taxes. RITA is authorized to administer and enforce income tax laws.
The mayor’s message notes there is no one on staff other than Crawford who can operate the Universal Account Number system and manage the budget. Also, paying vendors and meeting payroll “is also in question at this point.”
“We do not have other candidates and the council has provided no direction. A person fulfilling the tax commissioner/fiscal officer role needs to be bonded. If we were to hire a replacement (which we 100 percent need regardless of council’s opinion on a regional tax authority for income tax collection) they would naturally offer their current employer a two-week resignation period – pushing back a village start date. It appears the village will be without someone that can handle the fiscal duties of the village,” the message says.
The mayor last week said council was provided information about Crawford’s situation eight to 10 weeks ago.
Boday told The Press Thursday that Crawford made her intention to retire this year known almost a year ago and council suggested then the mayor advertise the position was opening to attract possible candidates.
He said the mayor was keeping information about Tepper “under wraps” until recently because the mayor was concerned about Northwood officials learning Tepper was being considered for the Walbridge post.
“Suddenly we were like backed against the wall to get this guy in for an additional $15,000 a year (over what Crawford is being paid). That was another concern we had,” Boday said. “I understand Patty knows him and recommended him and he may know his stuff. But it was just the way it was done. It should have been done differently. Ed should have been looking a year ago. It made me feel he was backing council into a corner and then the email he sent was like he’s scolding council but he’s the one who hasn’t done his due diligence to have someone take over that role.”
He said Tepper or any candidate should have at least been brought in for an interview with the president of council and chairperson of the personnel and human resources committee.
Efforts to reach Canales-Pratt and Johnston were not successful.


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