Village of Swansea Board of Trustees met May 24.
Village of Swansea Board of Trustees met May 24.
Here is the minutes provided by the Board:
Attendees: Board President Leopold, Trustees Lanter, McGuire, McDonald, Neumeyer, Pulley, & Wells, Treasurer John Walter, Village Attorney Jerry Warchol, Police Department (PD) Chief Steve Johnson, PD Deputy Chief Craig Coughlin, Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) Chief Rick Tucker, Administrator Lyndon Joost, Code Enforcement Officer Randy Tedesco, Accounting Manager Kathie Fietsam, Village Clerk O'Neill (prepared minutes), other community members. The Trustee names in motions are presented with the individual that made the motion listed first, followed by the individual that seconded the motion. Support of members includes those present. The items outlined below were discussed.
Call to Order, Pledge Allegiance to the Flag, and Trustee Roll Call
Public Comment - Accounting Manager Kathie Fietsam told the Board that she just recently became aware that the Board was considering terminating her employment, and she apologized for the mistake, noting the mistaken transfer of funds was not malicious and that she was involved in the bulk of the funds being returned, noting that a little less than $5K was not returned and the resulting loss to the Village of Swansea was the $1 Kinsurance deductible. She said that she was sorry for mistake, never tried to blame anyone, and wanted the Board to know the background related to the January 2017 wired transfer. She said that there was tension in the office, and that morning Mayor Mueller and Administrator Joost were together in the office behind closed doors, when she received phone email Thessages from the Mayor Mueller directing her to transfer funds. She provided some statistics on FBI investigations of fraud attempts in the area and losses to businesses worldwide due to fraud involving malware infiltration of business email systems. She said that she has saved the Village at least 143K with her reviews and investigations that resulted in sizable credits to the Village, the lowering of IRS unemployment taxes, and saving the Village on outside work related to closing the books, preparing pension reports, and other audit work. She said that she is passionate about accounting and is fiscally responsible. She said that since January 2017, no one spoke to her or discussed the issue, nor allowed her to calm fears and answer questions. She said that she is loyal to the Village and entrusted with accounts and assets and internal controls. She said she owned the mistake and never tried to blame anyone else. She said that she kept the monetary damages to a minimum, and requested a more lenient punishment than termination.
Later in the evening, Accounting Manager Kathie Fietsam responded to questions, indicating that the fraudulent wire transfer was made to an address in Florida. She added that it was not unusual in the office for Mayor Mueller to request wire transfers of funds. She said it was also not uncommon to have checks written without back up. She indicated with her credentials as a CPA the audit and closing of the books that used to be outsourced in 2015, she was able to do the work saving the Village $28Kannually since 2015. She explained that the PD pension work involved extensive reporting, and a current auditor indicated the charge for one report would be $5K.
Proposed Wage Rates for Non-Bargaining Unit Village Employees - A handout was provided. It was noted that the handout offered a condensed version of earlier reports provided to the Board. It was reviewed that there were no changes to dispatchers pay, as with the 911 consolidation their employment with the Village would end shortly. A downward adjustment in the pay rate for one employee was required to more accurately reflect the skill set the employee brought to the job. It was noted that the budget being implemented was separate from impacts to payroll. Neumeyer and McDonald are working on job descriptions for employees. It was requested that time might be needed to review the proposed wage rates. A handout provided Village ordinance/records Chapter 4 Section 4-117 speaking of positions being classified by grade and step. It was suggested that this language and effort might go back to the 1980s. The current chart has 1% increments between steps. Effort was taken to match employees based on their Current wage rate with a grade and step. There was concern noted that raises may be given when the Village isn't in a position to afford them. Tedesco provided a handout outlining some of his activities as Inspector and Code Administrator, as well as economic development activities. It was noted that the title was required to be able to enforce actions. Some typical duties of a Code Administrator were portrayed as reviewing plans, filing liens, etc. Tedesco shared that in 2014 there were 3 people in his section of the office and in 2015 the employees went to 1, and he is not in a position to be a department head/supervisor, because he's a department of one. It was suggested that there might be a potential for the Village to take on inspection work in a manner that would be profitable to the Willage, with an assistant hired to work on inspections. ft was added that this and other ideas some as an economic development incentive might take some research and time to implement. It was reviewed that the grades can be adjusted once implemented. It was suggested that the pay raises be adopted this evening, and that they would involve retroactive pay raises, and the longer the retroactive pay period is the more involved the bookkeeping work becomes. Motion by Lanter, Pulley, and yes roll call votes from the Trustees approved the pay raises as presented.
* Executive Session - Between 6:30 and 6:55 pm with a motion by Neumeyer, Putley, and roll call support of Trustees, closed session discussions were held (Open Meetings Act Exception 5 ILCS 120/2(c)(1) - "The appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance, or dismissal of specific employees of the public body..."). A motion by McGuire, Neumeyer, and support of the Trustees re-opened the public meeting. A motion by Neumeyer, McGuire, and roll call of aye from all Trustees supported the Mayor proceeding as directed in executive session.