Lack of meeting minutes trouble trustees

By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

Officials in Franklin Township are voicing their frustration with the fiscal office due to a reported lack of transparency, specifically with meeting minutes. Currently, township notes have not been posted this year.

“Right now, all we have online is the audio from the meetings,” said Mark Potts, township administrator at a recent board meeting. “The reason for this is because the fiscal department says they don’t have time to complete this.”

Franklin Township Fiscal Officer Mary Rhinehart recently took over the position.

“Where are we on the minutes,” asked trustee John Fleshman. “Do we have an idea of when the minutes will be caught up?”

According to Franklin Township Assistant Fiscal Officer Robyn Watkins, they have no idea when the minutes will be available.

“We have no minutes available,” Watkins said. “I don’t have an answer of when they will be done. I still have a lot of meeting minutes that have not been typed.”

This has continued to frustrate the trustees and at the beginning of the year, the board approved a resolution saying the fiscal office had to have meeting minutes available by the next board meeting. This has not happened.

“It takes two days to type out meeting minutes,” Rhinehart said. “We have payroll and other responsibilities, so there is no other time.”

Rhinehart said she could postpone payroll if the board forces the department to complete meeting minutes in this timeframe.

“I don’t think you can force us to do that,” Rhinehart said.

The trustees said this has not been an issue, until recently.

“This should be a basic thing we accomplish,” said trustee Aryeh Alex. “If the current secretary can’t do this, they should be trained properly or find someone who can. This is a major failure of the fiscal office.”

Also, at the meeting the board butted heads with the fiscal office over when the fiscal officer, as well as the trustees should be paid each month.

“The fiscal office is saying we should be paid at the end of the month after we have completed our work,” Fleshman said. “The reason for this is because if we are paid at the beginning of the month and we resign, we will be paid for work we have not completed.”

However, the trustees and the fiscal officer have always been paid at the beginning of the month and this has never been an issue, according to several trustees.

“I really don’t care; we have huge financial issues we should be focused,” Alex said. “We can’t even get meeting minutes out on time, so why are we concerned with this? The fiscal office also has missed payroll several times for our staff, so they should be focusing on that.”

Rhinehart said this is an important issue that needs to be addressed.

“The trustees should never be paid before the end of the month and I won’t do it,” Rhinehart said. “This is going to cause all kinds of issues.”

Rhinehart told the trustees this is her department’s decision, and the board has no authority to vote on it; saying that the board cannot decide the structure of how the fiscal office operates.

“For me, I would rather be paid at the beginning of the month for consistency,” Fleshman said. “This also is a board decision, and the board will decide.”

The board agreed to discuss the topic at a later date.

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