Mayor Shannon Kohl called the Martinsville Common Council to order on Monday,
February 13, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. Councilman Ben Merida then led those in attendance in
opening prayer followed by the Mayor’s leading attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance.
THOSE MEMBERS IN ATTENDANCE
- Shannon Kohl, Mayor
- Terry Buster, District 1
- Ben Merida, District 2
- Mike Lanam, District 3
- Chip Keller, District 4
- Phil Deckard II, District 5
- Eric Bowlen, Councilman-at-Large
- Kris Fuller, Councilman-at-Large
- Troy Swan, City Engineer
- Dale Coffey, City Attorney
- Craig DeMott, DPW
- Terry Anderson, Fire Chief
- Matt Long, Chief of Police
- Lachell Mauer, Assistant Chief of Police
- Valerie Hugart, Clerk-Treasurer
- Rebecca Tumey, Acting Clerk Treasurer
A quorum was declared present.
Personnel Matter / Valerie Hugart – City Attorney Dale Coffey opened the discussion regarding Clerk-Treasurer Valerie Hugart. Ms. Hugart has been on medical leave since last June. She has been in contact with Coffey to discuss “whatif” issues. A conversation ensued regarding a severance package for Hugart if she were to resign. Coffey reiterated that the office of Clerk-Treasurer is separate from the rest of the City. Hugart has a very qualified, dedicated, competent staff, therefore, her duties are being fulfilled. Hugart can continue to collect her salary as long as she is on medical leave. Coffey then asked the Council to discuss and possibly decide on a severance package.
Councilman Phil Deckard II said he does not support, nor wants to participate in a buy-out package for an elected official. Councilman Chip Keller said, “If we do nothing, she will not resign on her own.” He went on to say this is a good opportunity for the City and the best idea. A one-time payout of $55,000.00 as opposed to over $200,000.00 until her term ends in 2019. Councilman Ben Merida added he agrees with Keller and to cut the City’s losses at $55,000.00. Councilman Deckard maintained he is not in favor of this. GOP Chairman Daniel Elliott was asked to come to the mic and answer questions. Elliott acknowledged the City is in a difficult position. He said his job is not to advise how to handle this, but upon a resignation, call a caucus for a replacement.
Councilman Kris Fuller spoke next. He said all Republicans are fiscally conservative, and while this is not an idea situation, the taxpayer comes first. He supports the severance package. However, he will abstain from voting because he had been the Clerk-Treasurer Attorney prior to becoming a Councilman. Councilman Mike Lanam said he could see all sides of this situation. He stated “I was elected to serve the taxpayers”, therefore he supports the severance package and the money it would save. Keller asked everyone to consider 3 years vs 1 one year.
Mayor Kohl asked for comments from the audience. Citizen Cecelia Kreft came to the mic and said that when an elected official raises their right hand to take the oath of office, you swear to uphold the office, to the best of their ability. She said it appears the City does not anticipate Hugart returning in the near future. Kreft does not support the severance package.
City Attorney Dale Coffey made clear, the potential severance package is not a contract. It is a medical severance package. The funds will run through payroll and taxes will be with-held.
Mayor Kohl asked the Council to be mindful of Hugarts’ 18 plus years with the City – “that has to count for something.”
Councilman Fuller told there is a procedure to remove an elected official from office, but does not think this case meets the criteria. Daniel Elliott agreed with Fuller – adding it is very difficult to remove elected officials.
A motion to table this matter was made by Councilman Kris Fuller and seconded by Councilman Ben Merida. The Motion passes 5-0.
There being no further business, Councilman Chip Keller made the motion to adjourn. This was seconded by Kris Fuller. The motion passes 5-0.