Aldermen vote 4-1 to OK finance panel appointment

Conley ’eminently qualified’ to serve, mayor tells Hardy

By MIKE ANTHONY

The Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen recently approved Mayor Bill Nolan’s appointment of Ken Conley to the city’s Finance Committee.

The Board of Aldermen voted 4-1 to approve Conley’s appointment with Ward 1 Alderman Frank Hardy opposed. Ward 2 Alderman Tom Hrastich and Ward 3 Aldermen Jan Hoffmann and Stephen Webb were absent.

“… I’ve received an affirmative response from a gentleman named Ken Conley to replace Kerry Borawski on the Finance Committee for a two-year term,” Nolan said, adding he was asking the board to approve his appointment.

But Hardy told Nolan that he had some concerns about appointing Conley to the Finance Committee.

“… I don’t know Ken Conley. I don’t know anything about him,” Hardy said, adding he appreciated the biographical information he had been provided about Conley.

Hardy noted at the Oct. 11 meeting that he had reviewed the Finance Committee ordinance, particularly the provisions of the committee’s membership.

That ordinance, in part, states that the committee shall consist of five members — two aldermen and three citizens, Hardy noted, adding the measure later states, “One citizen member shall be an accountant and one citizen member shall have experience in accounting.”

The alderman said he discussed the appointment with his wife, Phillis, the city collector and a certified public accountant.

“… I showed her the bio that you sent out and asked her if she felt that this person would have experience in accounting and be able to serve in that position on the Finance Committee,” Hardy said. “And in her opinion, she answered ‘no.”’

Given his wife’s background in accounting, Hardy said he had to respect her opinion.

“So I question whether Mr. Conley has the experience in accounting to serve according to this ordinance …,” the alderman said.

Of the Finance Committee’s citizen members, Nolan said Mike Fitzgerald is a certified public accountant and Mike Sawicki, a former Ward 1 alderman, has a degree in economics with a minor in accounting and has “extensive experience” in accounting by virtue of his employment.

“And somewhere along the line, the third person (Borawski) became a person who happened to be a CPA,” Nolan said. “Now given the fact that we have a CPA and we have a gentleman with extensive experience in accounting in the person of Mike Sawicki, (for) the third person there is no particular requirement under the ordinance that they have any particular experience.

“However, Mr. Conley has expressed an interest in serving. He’s recently completed a project of studying, along with Michelle Heutel and Martin Lipic, all of the purchasing that the city does and recommended changes in that area, has agreed to serve on the Revenue Study Committee, managed a budget for Monsanto for over 20 years with 40 employees and a $15 million budget, and budgeting is one of the big responsibilities of the committee.

“I feel he is eminently qualified to be the third person among the citizens,” the mayor added.

Hardy then asked his wife whether she believed Sawicki’s background qualified him to serve as the committee member with experience in accounting.

Phillis Hardy said, “Well, I was just giving my opinion and I just think that since we had a CPA resigning and I’m sure there are plenty of CPAs in Sunset Hills that would be interested in assisting and maybe we should go out and look …”

Nolan interjected, “OK. Let me make this point right now. I know that Mr. and Mrs. Hardy, OK, perhaps have some specific interest in who I appoint to this committee. However, the authority to appoint the members of the Finance Committee lies with the mayor, OK.

“I have made my appointment and I have no intention of withdrawing it, OK. He is a long-standing acquaintance of Alderman Hrastich, who assured me he felt he was eminently qualified to serve on the committee that Mr. Hrastich chairs. Do you have any further issues, Mr. Hardy?” Nolan asked.

Hardy said, “Mr. Mayor, I have no one’s name in mind. I am simply going by what I read in the ordinance.”

Nolan said, “Is there a motion to approve my appointment?”

The board then voted 4-1 to approve Nolan’s appointment of Conley to the Finance Committee. Hardy was opposed.