Clerk of Portage reacts to criticism


PORTAGE – The clerk-treasurer lashed out at a councilwoman and the mayor for suggesting he’s incompetent
and presented his own figures for justifying a reduced police department.
At Monday’s council meeting, Bruce Shepherd accused Mayor Mark Wolford and Councilwoman Marcia Wolford,
who are married, for demeaning his integrity and abilities.
"You have tried your best to denigrate me," Shepherd said. "It’s very clear some people
want to see me out of this position but I’m not going to leave it."
Marcia Wolford said she is not going after Shepherd.
"I am simply as a member of council requesting accurate reports so we can make decisions," she
Shepherd said the mayor, after last month’s council meeting, said he was incompetent.
"I’m not saying Bruce is incompetent," Wolford responded. "I’m saying there are things
that just don’t jive."
Shepherd also presented figures that show police department and mayor’s court expenses for the year
through July 27. They detail what the department is charged for, including utilities, insurance and
The total costs for both areas are $78,710. He said the total revenue from mayor’s court and Bowling
Green Municipal Court so far this year has been $50,824. The difference, or loss, is $27,885.
"There’s nothing I can do with UAN (Uniform Accounting Network). I input reports. I input purchases.
I input the amounts. I input the checks. That’s all I do. The computer does everything else,"
Shepherd said.
At the last council meeting, three council members and the mayor voted to reinstate the police chief’s
hours to 40. They had been cut to 20 in June.
Marcia Wolford presented numbers that contradicted with Shepherd’s figures. She also said police revenue
had plummeted since Bartz’s hours were reduced.
According to finances presented by Shepherd, the police department lost $1,317 in May, and four times
that in previous months. The department’s costs for this year were estimated to be about $40,000 more
than the $153,000 it cost to operate in 2008.
Shepherd also said Monday that he wouldn’t take minutes anymore. Council usually spends about 30 minutes
correcting minutes at the start of each meeting.
"Clearly there is an issue with minutes," he said. "I won’t do it with that kind of
He said council could hire a company that would transcribe the minutes word for word.
"You need to do your job," Mayor Wolford said. "You need to pay the bills. You need to
take the minutes."
Shepherd’s comments followed a 45-minute discussion of minutes from the June 15 and July 20 meetings.
Marcia Wolford said she listened to the audio recording of the June 15 meeting and had numerous
corrections. One pertained to $40,000 the village owes on a sewer loan by the end of the year.
Wolford said the comment was not made during the meeting. Both Tamara Sharp and Jay Sockman said they
remembered it being discussed and possibly the tape didn’t pick it up.
It may have been talked about during the finance committee meeting that preceded council, Wolford said.
"It was not on the CD," she said.
"I really am quite certain that statement was made," Sharp said.
When Wolford quoted extensively at times from the audio CD for the corrections, Sharp asked her if she
wanted the minutes typed word for word.
"No, I’m saying I want them to be essentially correct," Wolford said.
Wolford made a motion to approve the corrected minutes, but it died when it wasn’t seconded.
For the July 20 meeting, Shepherd said something happened with the audio recorder and there was an empty
Also at the meeting, council:
¥ Heard Village Administrator Ron Sharp recommend no increase in sewer fees. He said the charges had
already brought in $68,000 this year and $30,000 had been paid out. Mayor Wolford said it was a positive
that the account had money when the village was struggling in other areas; Portage was put into fiscal
emergency by the state in April. Councilwoman Sharp said. "That’s what’s supporting the village and
it should not be."
¥ Heard Wolford say he is organizing a "clean up downtown" day based on the offers of help made
at the last council meeting.
¥ Voted to buy $30 worth of plastic sleeves to help Sue Kepling continue making a scrapbook of village
newspaper articles and photos.
¥ Voted to spend $55 on a hard drive for the police laptop computer.

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