By Debbie Rogers
WALBRIDGE — Village council narrowly approved hiring a new fiscal officer — the same candidate rejected at the last meeting.
Before the vote at the Aug. 2 meeting, Council member Vicky Canales asked how Andy Tepper learned about the fiscal officer/tax commissioner position.
Kolanko said that retiring Fiscal Officer Patty Crawford had reached out to him.
Voting yes on Tepper’s hire were LaDenna Johnston, Sue Hart-Douglas, Ron Liwo and Karen Baron. Vicky Canales and Larry Boday voted no.
Tepper is the tax administrator for Northwood and has a master’s degree in accounting. He lives in Lambertville, Michigan.
At the last meeting, council voted 3-2 to not hire Tepper; Liwo was absent.
Johnston flipped her vote at the Aug. 2 meeting.
In a follow-up interview, Johnston said that she had initially asked the Walbridge administration for information on joining the Regional Income Tax Agency.
“My first ‘no’ vote was because my questions weren’t being answered,” she said.
At a special council meeting on July 31, this was discussed more in depth, Johnston said. She also did her own research.
“I do think it’s better in the long run to have someone on staff to answer village residents’ questions about taxes,” Johnson said.
“Tepper has assured us that he can do all of what RITA can do,” Johnston said. “In the long run I don’t think the savings (of joining RITA) would outweigh the change.”
Canales said she supports hiring Tepper, but not the process.
“My concern has nothing to do with Mr. Tepper,” she said in an email. “My concern is how the process was handled. We as council have asked many times to work together with the policy and procedures according to the ordinance. I have set up a few meetings and have asked for administration to be present, unfortunately those attempts have gone unanswered or completely told that it was not going to happen.”
After the July 19 council meeting, Crawford, who is also the tax commissioner, submitted a letter of resignation, effective Aug. 11. She had been planning to retire for awhile and had medical leave planned.
Kolanko, in an email to council after the meeting, said not hiring Tepper puts the village in a very difficult position.
“The current fiscal officer will be going on leave for medical reasons and we do not have current staff to perform needed fiscal tasks. Council presented no solutions to the matter,” he said.
Kolanko said that without the hire, the staff would struggle performing daily tasks of budget management, tax reviews, staff wages and bill payments.
Also at the meeting, council approved investing $500,000 in village funds into a three-month certificate of deposit at State Bank. It will earn 4.23% interest.