Lake Placid village to use town clerk for minutes

LAKE PLACID – The village put its clerk, Kathryn “Kook” McKillip, on administrative leave last week as it seeks her replacement, so the village board discussed various issues dealing with that change at their Monday meeting.

For now, the board is using North Elba town Clerk Laurie Curtis Dudley to take minutes at village board meetings. Mayor Craig Randall said the village will pay her $50 an hour for the duty.

Dudley noted that she won’t fulfill any other clerk duties for the village.

Randall said he expects the arrangement will be necessary for six to eight weeks while the village seeks a replacement for McKillip. He said that time frame is based on past experience with soliciting applications for employees.

“I think we’d better hurry up, then,” said Trustee Jason Leon.

Randall agreed the cost should keep the board on track.

McKillip was cited for paying herself more than $22,000 in leave time that she hadn’t earned, among other irregularities, in a December 2010 audit report by the state comptroller’s office. She was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing for mishandling village finances, and so far she has avoided paying restitution. The Enterprise has been unable to reach McKillip for comment.

Randall notified her that she was being placed on administrative leave last week. He noted at Monday’s meeting that she is on paid leave, so the board will have to work quickly to replace her.

“That’s the impetus to get the job done,” he said.

The board also scheduled a hearing to gather public input on whether to change the village’s residency requirement for its workers. Currently, the village requires that employees live within the village limits.

Randall said he wants to consider expanding that requirement to anyone who lives in Essex County. Some people suggested that the village change it to allowing employees from the town of North Elba, but Randall said state law only allows the requirement to be applied to the geographic areas of the village or the county.

A member of the public who attended Monday’s meeting noted that the village doesn’t follow the residency requirement strictly now. Village Attorney Janet Bliss said some union contracts trump the requirement in some cases.

Randall said there are people who don’t live within the village limits who are still invested in the community. He said the village may get more qualified applicants if it opens up its potential employee pool.

Leon recommended that the village keep its current requirement, saying he wants to reinvest in people who live in the village. He said he understands the idea of getting more applicants, but he believes that even if the village intends to try to keep its employees within the Lake Placid community now, removing the requirement could lead to that intent being lost in the future.

“I’m uncomfortable with that,” Leon said.

Randall said opening up the applicant pool would likely save the village money, making things more competitive.

Randall said he has drafted the law, and he set a hearing on the topic for April 15.

“I would like input from the community,” Randall said.

Randall noted that the requirement is a general one, but it would likely have an impact on the pool of applicants the village will get for the clerk position.

Randall also noted Monday that in the absence of McKillip, he wasn’t able to post the meeting’s agenda and documents to the village’s website. He said he plans to remedy that situation soon.

McKillip was named as the village clerk on a list of appointments the board made Monday but only as a holdover, Randall noted at the meeting. She has remained the clerk for the last two years in the same way, but Randall said the board is moving to replace her now.

It’s happening now for various reasons, Randall said. The village has been trying to negotiate with McKillip’s lawyer to get to her to pay the money back, but Randall said he’s come to the conclusion that that’s not likely.

“I think the time has come,” he said.