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Senator: State needs to address absent officials

Posted at 5:40 PM, Mar 23, 2016

WHITESTOWN, Ind. -- An Indiana senator is pushing for change across the state in response to a Call 6 Investigates report that exposed former Whitestown Clerk-Treasurer Amanda Andrews collecting a $47,500 salary despite not showing up for work.

CALL 6 | Where is Whitestown's clerk-treasurer?

Sen. Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville) authored Senate Resolution 55, which urges the legislature to study the issue of absent elected officials.

Boots, whose jurisdiction includes Whitestown, authored the measure at the urging of the Town of Whitestown town council that recently passed its own resolution asking the Indiana General Assembly to study the issue.

“When Ms. Andrews took a full-time, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. job in the private sector in another county and stopped showing up to fulfill her duties as clerk-treasurer, some taxpayers were livid that she was able to continue to draw her $47,500-a-year salary without showing up for work,” said Eric Miller, town council president, in a statement to Call 6 Investigates. “But our town council had absolutely no recourse.”

Because of the way Indiana Code is currently written, clerks have no statutory obligation to work a certain number of hours, Miller said.

“In order to be able to protect our residents’ tax dollars, we feel it would be prudent for City and Town Councils to have the ability to designate part-time pay for part-time work in such cases, so no community in Indiana ever runs into this type of situation again where a full-time, taxpayer paid salary is being drawn with no accountability,” said Miller.

Senator Boots said lawmakers need to give communities teeth to address any elected official not fulfilling their duties.

Current law prohibits cutting a sitting official’s pay during their term, even if they stop showing up to work, Boots said.

“Back several years ago in Montgomery County we had an auditor that said the air was not clean enough for her at the courthouse, so she didn’t show up to work for several months, but continued to collect her pay,” said Boots. “So it’s not an unusual situation.  I think if the elected official doesn’t want to fulfill their duties or obligations and work for the taxpayers, there ought to be the ability for the council to address the issue.”

The senator expects the legislative council to decide whether to study the issue sometime in May.

“We need to look at what is the best way to accomplish that when someone doesn’t fulfill their full time duties, then, how do you adjust that pay?” said Boots. “Obviously we have to be careful not to cut a sitting individual’s pay just because they don’t like the job they’re doing, or they’re in a different political party or whatever it may be.”

Boots pointed out it costs taxpayers extra money when an elected official doesn’t show up and co-workers have to pick up the slack.

In Whitestown, critics argued the town had to rely on a deputy clerk in order to cover for Andrews while she worked a private sector job during the day.

“I think the taxpayers, when they elect you, are fully expecting you to fulfill your duties and provide a service to the taxpayers,” said Boots. “I think we’re going to have to look at what are the requirements and how do we address that issue.”

Andrews resigned at a council meeting in December.

The town selected a new clerk treasurer, Matt Sumner, at a meeting last month.

““Whitestown is very proud to be a partner with the General Assembly and a proactive leader in our state in suggesting changes to policy that will better the lives of our citizens and help protect tax payer dollars,” Miller told RTV6. “We commend Senator Phil Boots for his willingness to listen to our town council and author Senate Resolution 55.”

PREVIOUS:

Embattled Whitestown clerk treasurer resigns at council meeting

Whitestown resident: Clerk's absence 'feels like fraud'

CALL 6: Whitestown Town Council selects new clerk-treasurer

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