Crestwood city clerk resigns

Administrator names Ingold acting city clerk

By Mike Anthony

Crestwood City Clerk Tina Flowers has resigned her position, effective Friday, July 25.

Flowers, who has served as city clerk since January 2007, submitted her resignation July 14, according to an email City Administrator Mark Sime sent to aldermen.

“I regret to inform you that this morning the city clerk presented me with her resignation, effective July 25, 2014,” Sime wrote in the July 14 email. “She plans to take vacation time from today until her resignation is effective.

“Therefore, she will not be in the building.

“She has done a lot for the city and we have talked about the future of the staffing of the clerk office. I will appoint Helen Ingold as the acting city clerk until a new city clerk is hired. The ad for the position will be on the streets this week,” Sime wrote.

Ingold has served as an executive secretary for the city since January 2005.

Contacted by the Call, Flowers declined to comment, noting that her resignation is not effective until July 25. Until then, she is a civil service employee, or classified employee. Under the city’s Civil Service Rules and Regulations, classified employees cannot act as a spokesperson in response to media inquiries without approval from the city administrator.

Mayor Gregg Roby was unavailable for comment before the Call’s press deadline.

In addition to the acting city clerk, the city is in the process of filling the vacant finance officer position and has an acting public services director.

Sime has declined to explain publicly why he attempted earlier this year to reclassify the clerk’s position as an unclassified position — a change that appears to violate the city’s Charter and was opposed by Flowers.

In February, Sime proposed an ordinance to amend the city’s municipal code to make the city clerk’s position unclassified, or exempt — the same status as elected officials, the city administrator and department heads, who are not covered under the city’s Civil Service Rules and Regulations.

Flowers wrote in a May 30 email sent to aldermen that Sime’s proposal would directly conflict with the city’s Charter, which states the city clerk “shall be a civil service employee.”

While Sime’s proposal to reclassify the clerk’s post originally appeared on the agenda for the Feb. 11 aldermanic meeting, he removed it from the agenda the day before the meeting. Legal bills the Call obtained through a public records request show City Attorney Lisa Stump’s firm, Lashly & Baer, was paid at least $1,690 for researching and drafting the ordinance.

Sime’s effort to reclassify the post resurfaced after Ward 2 Alderman Tim Trueblood instructed Stump on May 27 to draft an ordinance for aldermen to consider June 24 that, if approved, “would put before the voters of Crestwood at the next regularly scheduled election a ballot to amend the city’s Charter …”

Under the proposed ballot issue, the city clerk’s position would “fall entirely under the selection, control, review and direction of the Board of Aldermen …”

However, Trueblood asked the board June 24 to postpone consideration of the proposed Charter Amendment. Trueblood’s proposal called for voters to consider whether aldermen should appoint the city clerk, who would be subject to the direction and supervision of the board. As proposed, the post would remain a civil service position.

Trueblood’s proposal met opposition from Ward 4 Alderman Michael Vincent, who wrote in a May 30 email that after talking with Sime, he believed any Charter amendment for the clerk’s position would be better handled by the city’s Charter Review Commission in the future.

“I say wait — and incur no expense now. Most of us I assume have seen the legal costs incurred the last time this was brought forward,” he wrote. “It is my understanding our clerk initiated discussions with our CA (city administrator) and that he attempted to positively help her and to consider FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) guidelines.

“It is my understanding our clerk changed her mind and the issue was dropped. At that time, as now, I understand our CA had no criticism of our clerk or her work. It is my hope we all feel our clerk is doing excellent work, and needs no further protection beyond what she has with the CSB (Civil Service Board),” Vincent wrote.

But in her May 30 email response to Vincent, sent to all aldermen, Sime and her personal attorney, Flowers wrote, “I did not initiate nor did I support the reclassification of my position as city clerk. This issue was proposed to me by City Administrator Sime in late January 2014. At that time, I expressed the concerns of this reclassification as being in direct conflict with the City Charter and also that my position would no longer have the status of being a classified position under the city’s Civil Service Rules and Regulations …”

Besides the soon-to-be vacant city clerk’s post, the deadline to apply for the vacant city finance officer’s position was July 11.

Nearly a year ago, aldermen approved a separation agreement with former Finance Officer Greg Kremer, who signed the agreement and resigned effective Aug. 15.

Kremer was hired in January 2011.

In a closed meeting on Aug. 20, aldermen voted 8-0 to approve the agreement, which settles all potential claims between Kremer and the city regarding his employment.

The city paid Kremer $5,250 and $2,000 to Kremer’s attorneys.

Instead of hiring a finance officer, Sime recommended aldermen approve a consulting agreement for financial support services with a company the city once sued for alleged professional negligence and breach of contract.

The agreement called for Hochschild, Bloom & Co. to serve as a consultant for financial support services for the city’s Finance Department. The board was scheduled to consider the agreement May 13, but Sime pulled the issue from the agenda after learning about the lawsuit, which the city filed in 2003 and Hochschild, Bloom & Co. settled in 2006.

Vincent’s motion to conduct a first reading of an ordinance approving the agreement for financial support services with Hochschild, Bloom & Co. failed for lack of a second on May 27. On June 10, aldermen voted 6-0 for Sime to move forward with hiring a full-time finance officer.

Maintenance Supervisor Brian Hibdon has been serving as acting public service director since Public Services Director Michael Pratt resigned, effective May 2.

“… We will be introducing our new public works director to the board for appointment …” Tuesday night — after the Call went to press — Roby wrote on his mayoral Facebook page.