Placid board reappoints treasurer despite concerns
LAKE PLACID – The village board approved the reappointment of Treasurer Peggy Mousaw, plus an extra stipend, despite some concerns.
The board tabled a decision on whether to reappoint Mousaw in the spring, when the rest of the normal appointments were made, saying they had some things they needed to work out with her.
Mayor Craig Randall said at last week’s regular board meeting that he has been in talks with her for the last few months, and he asked board members to reappoint her for a two-year term. He suggested the board continue the same amount of compensation she gets now, plus add a $5,000 stipend recognizing additional work she’s done.
Those duties she has performed that weren’t in her original job duties include grant writing and administration, Randall said. He said she’s brought more than $1 million into the village in grant money, without the village having to pay a grant writer.
“I think it’s appropriate to recognize people when they’ve gone over and above,” Randall said.
He also credited Mousaw for helping the village get its finances and accounting back on track after an audit the state released in December 2010 criticized the way the village was being run. Randall said the time before that one that a full audit was done, a number of the same problems popped up as in the 2010 audit, but he said most of the issues have been cleared up now.
It’s a tough job, taking control of a small government as an internal auditor and making sure taxpayer money is being spent appropriately, he said.
“It’s a big undertaking for anybody,” Randall said.
Controversy over appointment
After Randall proposed that someone move to accept Mousaw’s reappointment, Trustee Scott Monroe moved to table it because Trustee Jason Leon wasn’t there. Leon missed the meeting because he was on vacation in California.
Trustee Art Devlin said Leon could have video-called in to the meeting on Skype if he had wanted to, saying the reappointment has been on the table for long enough. He and other board members declined to second Monroe’s motion.
Trustee Peter Holderied said Leon had mentioned to him that he wanted to know how the village was going to regulate Mousaw’s hours. Board members have wanted Mousaw to keep office hours on Fridays, although she had been allowed in the past to work four days a week.
The board voted at their last meeting to remove all references to “flex time” or “flex time benefits,” and Monroe said that was done in part because Mousaw was abusing it.
Randall said he and Holderied had “numerous” meetings with Mousaw, and that was one of the topics they discussed. He said Mousaw had agreed to work the hours the board wants, even if she wasn’t necessarily happy about it. That being said, Randall went on, since department heads don’t clock in and out, if they have finished their work, they are free to leave.
“That has been resolved, I would say, satisfactorily at the moment,” Randall said.
Monroe also brought up some other issues, including a problem with sewer bills that went for 10 months without getting caught.
“In my opinion, with that amount of money not being generated, it should have been caught sooner,” Monroe said. “That’s just my opinion.”
Monroe also talked about Mousaw’s “inadequate people skills, making her an ineffective department head,” and he said she repeatedly created turmoil with department heads and employees.
“She’s not perfect,” Holderied said in response.
Monroe was the only board member present to vote against Mousaw’s reappointment.
“I’m not in favor of doing it, and I’d like it noted in the minutes,” Monroe said. “My reason for not doing it is too many issues that surround her.”
Holderied, Devlin and Randall all voted to approve the appointment.
“I think we just have to move on and do the work that we’re here to do,” Randall said after the vote.
Leon told the Enterprise in a Monday phone interview that he was surprised the reappointment came up for a vote while he was gone.
He said he’s been conflicted on the issue because he agrees that Mousaw has done much to help the village’s finances and seek grants. But he also agrees her interpersonal communications “have left a lot to be desired.” He said he believed it “essential to her appointment” that the issues with her hours be resolved.
“Scott’s concerns are legitimate,” Leon said. “If I was at that meeting, it would have been hard for me to say yes or no.”
Now that she is reappointed, the village doesn’t hold any cards, he said, and he wishes more of the issues had been resolved first.
“Not that her appointment wouldn’t have been warranted, but I think it might have been a little bit premature,” Leon said.