The St. John Town Council has been feuding with Clerk-treasurer Sherry Sury over how the council meeting minutes are recorded. The council needs to give up this fight.
Jim Corridan of the Indiana Commission on Public Records wrote to the Town Council to express its concerns on the council's hiring of its own private recording secretary.
On Sept. 13, the council hired Susan Wright to record the minutes of meetings, at a cost of $70 per meeting. Wright has long recorded the minutes of St. John Plan Commission meetings at a cost of $120 per session.
At the council's Sept. 27 meeting, council Vice President Mark Barenie said he preferred Sury spend time providing financial reports.
But Sury has time to record the minutes, which she is required by law to do.
The Commission on Public Records letter said, "These duties are the legal responsibility and obligation of the elected town clerk-treasurer under IC 36-5-6-6(9): 'The clerk-treasurer shall do the following: Serve as clerk of the legislative body by attending its meetings and recording its proceedings.' "
In addition, the commission questioned the legitimacy of records generated by a private recording secretary and the legality of spending tax dollars on that purpose.
The practice of paying someone else to do what the clerk-treasurer is supposed to do for free might or might not be illegal, but it seems a clear waste of tax dollars.
Even before the State Board of Accounts weighs in on this, the Town Council should change its mind and switch back to having the clerk-treasurer fulfill the duties for which she was elected.
If the council wants to amend the minutes presented by Sury, that's fine. But let the clerk-treasurer record the minutes of meetings, as state law dictates. Don't try to rewrite history, and don't waste the taxpayers' money.