Trustees turn down request for help in the finance department

By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

Franklin Township Fiscal Officer Mary Rhinehart wants some help.

“I would like to ask the board to approve hiring another full-time staff member for the fiscal department,” Rhinehart said at a recent board meeting. “This position would work on accounts payable, daily ledgers and a variety of other tasks.”

This request did not sit well with all the trustees, with some arguing that they are short of first responders, so adding more staff to the fiscal office makes no sense.

“We can’t hire police officers, so adding another staff member to the fiscal office is not fiscally responsible,” trustee Aryeh Alex said. “The fiscal office already has one full-time staff member, as well as a contract part-time employee. You already have more help than most of our other departments have. At this time, I am saying no to this.”

The fiscal office has an assistant fiscal officer and has been using a temporary employee to help with an ongoing audit. Recently, the board approved an additional 200 hours for this temporary employee, allowing him to work 25 hours a week for the next four weeks.

However, Rinehart said they may need additional assistance from this temporary employee until April.

Trustee Ralph Horn said if they did hire an additional full-time staff member, it is not fair for this person to solely work for the fiscal office.

“We need a more diversified person that can work with many departments,” Horn said. “I know we are going to need more help in the next six months, but this help can’t just be for one department.”

The trustees said if another person were hired, they would need to be more cross functional and be able to help answer phones, perform administrative duties and help with a variety of tasks across multiple departments.

“We are spending money like crazy and it is out of control,” Horn said. “Before we hire anyone else, we need to define the position.”

Trustee John Fleshman questioned why the township cannot take money from the general fund to hire more firefighters and that if the fiscal office needs the help, they should try to accommodate that need.

“I talked to Mary about this and this person wouldn’t start until 2021,” Fleshman said. “We have to look at if this position fits into her department’s budget for 2021. We also need to look at all the duties in her department.”

Rhinehart argued that she needs the additional help, saying she cannot keep working the hours she currently is.

“I can’t tell you how much I need this help. I’m working 10 to 12 hours a day six days a week just to keep up,” she said. “We have a messed-up department and I need this help to fix it.”

Alex said everyone has to make do with what they have available right now.

“We just don’t have the resources,” Alex said. “Everyone needs more help. We need more police and firefighters. You have more help than other departments have.”

Rhinehart expressed her frustration with her request not being accepted.

“I want a part-time employee then,” she said. “You can’t say no; you are supposed to provide me with what I need. I’m not going to keep killing myself.”

The trustees said they could not approve a full-time or part-time position for the fiscal office.

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