On Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, registered voters within the town limits of Luther will be asked, again, whether to let the town hire a Clerk-Treasurer, instead of elect one.
Two elections earlier this year have been close. Both had extremely low voter turnout. One was even a tie. The town leadership voted to try, with an election cost of roughly $3,000, once again.
What’s the big deal? The job is described as difficult, although it does pay $60 a month. The other elected officials receive no compensation but are reimbursed for some expenses. Historically, the position has had a lot of turnover. The last Clerk-Treasurer Kim Bourns was appointed in October 2016, and was unopposed in the 2017 election. He resigned suddenly last December.
Breaking Down the Clerk-Treasurer Job
Last week, Luther Mayor Terry Arps submitted this column to raise awareness about the upcoming election.
Presently, the Clerk/Treasurer must be a resident of Luther. That creates serious limitations in a town of our size, including finding individuals who are (1) willing, (2) available and, (3) qualified to fill the position. Appointment of a Clerk/Treasurer rather than election affords an opportunity for the Board to find a candidate that has the education, training, and experience in administration and finance.
If you are wondering what the job entails, Luther Town Manager Scherrie Pidcock, who has been filling in as interim clerk-treasurer, provides more information.
- To excel in the position, the Clerk-Treasurer should be involved in the day-to-day operations of the Town. They need to have knowledge of Town codes and policies. The person should have accounting skills far beyond being able to balance a checkbook. Keeping an account of the Town’s finances, preparing, presenting, and staying within the budget requires an acute knowledge of the needs of the Town and LPWA. This requires skills and knowledge of several software programs. The person must attend training classes and gain experience to adequately perform the statutory requirements relating to Open Meetings.
- A Clerk is responsible for signing and placing the official Town Seal on almost all documents relating to the Town, including ordinances, resolutions, grant paperwork, insurance forms, all types of licenses and permits, and countless other papers. Anyone can sign their name and put a stamp on a paper, but in reality, the Clerk should be fully aware and understand the documents to which they are attesting.
- There are often Public Hearings that require the creation of notices for publication in a paper, certified mailings, notices to be physically posted in 3-5 public places, and accurate record-keeping of these items.
- Regarding the Town, Luther Public Works Authority (LPWA), and Luther Economic Development Authority (LEDA) agendas, these can take many hours of preparation for the Clerk as situations that need the Town Board of Trustees’ attention arise. Preparing agenda items in the proper form to be able to act on the items is not an easy task. On “Agenda Day”, there may be 3-4 drafts of each type of agenda that go out to the Town Attorney and Trustees before it is finally ready to post.
- Preparing the Planning Commission and Parks Agendas also takes communication with the members all throughout the month prior to the day the agendas are actually posted.
- Agenda “posting” consists of signing in to THREE social platforms, uploading and posting the information, along with physically posting the agenda in Town Hall, all within the required statutory time frame.
- Attendance of the Clerk is required at all public meetings in order to record and later accurately transcribe the proceedings. Is it the Clerk’s job to prepare all the paperwork related to the Agenda?? IDK really, but in my experience at The Village, the Clerk got everything together and sometimes the entire staff had to help get it into presentation form. Here, I see it as the Town Manager and the Clerk working together on Everything…unless they are one in the same person. I honestly can’t keep up with much more if we continue to grow. Maintaining these records is the duty of the Clerk.
- The Treasurer is required to make the daily deposits of the Town. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they physically have to be the one to take the deposit to the bank, but the chain of custody must be in place. In order for the Treasurer to account for the daily deposits, they should be aware of the daily business transactions of the Town. Keeping the accounts up to date, creating accurate, detailed reports, monitoring departmental budgets, receivables and payables should all be a part of an actual Treasurer’s responsibilities.
How many voters?
Less than 130 voters participated in the last two Clerk-Treasurer elections. There are 2,469 registered voters in the town limits, according to Misha Mohr, spokesperson for the Oklahoma Election Board. Some say there was little information and communication about it. Fair point. While there are so many ways to communicate these days, it can still be hard to keep up and stay aware. Plus voter apathy is a real deal.
The Town has a new app that will help, just text the word Luther to the number 844-597-6464. There is also information on the Town website and posts on social media.
The Luther Register also seeks to help with information. If you’re still reading and have more questions, leave a comment and we’ll get the answer. And thanks for reading!