An apparent miscommunication about a raise in the city clerk’s salary brought out some tension in Danielsville City Hall May 4.
Mayor Glenn Cross, who was unable to attend the called meeting on the matter last week, told the council that he remembered talking about giving new city clerk Connie Riley a $2 per hour raise, but that he did not remember what was said or when such a raise was to take effect.
City attorney Victor Johnson told the council that though the raise was not specifically voted on, it was, in fact, approved, since it was contained in the 2009 budget, which did have the council’s approval.
“When the council passes a budget, you approve what’s in that budget,” Johnson told them. “And you are responsible for understanding what’s in that budget.”
Johnson said it is a better practice to address pay raises specifically.
The council agreed to accept councilwoman Junne Temple’s prepared statement from the called meeting.
Temple said she simply wanted it recorded that the increase in salary was “issued without full council knowledge and incorporated as a budgetary item.”
Temple also said she plans to propose that all future budgets should be done by the council, with the clerk’s assistance, instead of by the clerk, so that the council will be more knowledgeable of what’s in it.
“I hope this puts us all on the same page and that that’s an end of it,” she said.
Riley was hired as city clerk on a temporary basis on Sept. 30, at a salary of $10 per hour. Her hiring followed the arrest of former long-time clerk Michelle Dills, who was indicted recently on a felony charge for allegedly stealing upwards of $196,000 in city funds between 2003 – 2008.
The council voted 3-2 in December to hire Riley as full-time clerk.
“In my own defense, I can say it (the raise) was not self-given,” Riley said, adding that it was discussed in a work session, because she could not find the discussion on recordings of council meetings. “Two council members and the mayor remember a conversation about it.”
Merk agreed that she remembered a conversation, but she did not remember a vote to implement the raise, though councilwoman Barbara Dove said she understood that the clerk’s raise would be figured into the 2009 budget.
“This is not an accusation,” Temple told Riley. “The issue is how this (raise) came to be if the council didn’t authorize this salary increase. It’s not personal toward anyone, I just feel like it’s our duty to investigate it.”
Assistant city clerk Becky Delay spoke up from the audience in defense of Riley, saying there were rumors going around town that she (Riley) had done something wrong.
“I feel like someone owes Connie an apology,” Delay said, adding that the matter could have been dealt with in the work session instead of a called meeting.
But Mayor Cross said he thought the matter had been handled properly, and legally, since the meeting was called by a quorum of three council members.
New council member Phillip Croya said that he supported the called meeting “100 percent.”
“You can’t control what people say,” Croya said. “If all those people are saying that, then that’s their problem – Connie didn’t do anything wrong.”
“That’s what I wanted someone to say, that she didn’t do anything wrong,” Delay said.