The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, March 23, 2016 6:06 am

Clerk's budget gets restored

Dave Gong | The Journal Gazette

The Fort Wayne city clerk’s office will be funded for the rest of the year. 

The City Council on Tuesday approved a measure appropriating $453,116 to the city clerk’s office for the remainder of the year. The council slashed the clerk’s 2016 funding by 75 percent during budget discussions in October because of controversy surrounding former City Clerk Sandy Kennedy. The cuts amounted to $414,454.

Kennedy and her deputy Angie Davis were caught on a secret recording created by former parking enforcement supervisor Colin Keeney appearing to engage in electioneering activities in the clerk’s office at Citizens Square.

The long-serving Kennedy, who chose not to seek another term last year, resigned her position in October citing health concerns. Davis’ resignation followed not long after. City Clerk Lana Keesling, a Republican who defeated Davis in the November general election, took over the office on Jan. 1.

Keesling said her budget for the rest of 2016 significantly reduced a $5,700 line-item for stamps, leaving only $300 in that fund. Keesling also added funding for training and development, as well as $1,080 for two cellphones for her office. Keesling also added $15,000 for legal fees, which she said will not be used unless it is necessary.

"Currently, there’s no money in the budget at all for training and development, and I felt that was needed based on new personnel and advancements in technology and advancements in the office," Keesling said. "There was no budget in the clerk’s office for cellphones, and we added I think $1,000 for two cellphones in the city clerk’s office."

Keesling also said she increased the salaries of the deputy city clerk and violations bureau supervisor positions, because they were previously paid at the lowest end of the salary range. Keesling said the education and experience of the two new employees is why she decided to up the pay for those positions.

"They have college educations – one has an MBA – and a lot of experience working with training, development and people and supervisory skills," Keesling said. "And I felt that was needed."

Keesling also cut the assistant parking control supervisor position from the parking enforcement side of her office.

There are still challenges facing the clerk’s office left over from the previous term, Keesling said. She noted that there are ordinances dating to at least 2010 that were never sent to American Legal, a service through which residents can research Fort Wayne city code online, for archiving. There are also 10,000 documents dating from 1999 to 2011 that were scanned but never sent to the city’s permanent database, Keesling said. Furthermore, Keesling said her office has $937,000 worth of citations outstanding that have never been collected.

"So we have $937,000 of citations going back to 2010 that we’re going to have to go back and try to clean up," Keesling said. "This has to be cleaned up, and we have to do a better job of keeping current and getting this amount of money collected."

Keesling said it may take longer than the remaining nine months of 2016 to complete all of the backlogged work.

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