SOUTH GLENS FALLS — The village has a new clerk/treasurer, ending the drama of the last few months.
The Village Board met in a special meeting Wednesday night to appoint Shannon Kelleher, who lives in Moreau. The board also had to extend its residency rule for the clerk/treasurer position, which previously was restricted to village residents only.
“Obviously, I’d prefer village, then town, then Saratoga County,” said Mayor Harry Gutheil. “But you have to get the best person.”
The board voted 3-2 on the appointment, with trustees Bill Hayes and Tim Carota voting no.
Hayes said he hadn’t gotten to see Kelleher’s resume or participate in any of the interviews, which Gutheil conducted with board member Tony Girard. Gutheil declined to make Kelleher’s resume public, and Hayes complained that he knew nothing about her, including her education or previous jobs.
Guthiel said Kelleher had the financial background to guide the village.
“I wouldn’t put anybody in there that didn’t,” he said.
Hayes has staunchly defended the former clerk/treasurer, Dannae Bock.
“I think we have a clerk that’s totally competent,” he said. “She’s done a good job.”
Bock served for nearly 20 years. But she was criticized twice by the state Comptroller’s Office in audits of the village budgets. She told the auditors that she deliberately underestimated revenues and overestimated expenditures to be sure that the budget would end in the black each year.
That system backfired when a new mayor took over. Mayor Joe Orlow thought that he had money to spend when revenues came in above expectation and expenditures came in at less than budgeted. He did not realize the budget was inaccurate. Under his administration, the village ended up spending all of its savings and teetering on deficit.
Bock angrily defended her role in the budget, saying that the mayor and board voted on every expense. But board members said they were guided by her advice.
When Gutheil won election, he did not reappoint her, but he didn’t replace her either. He told her to remain in her job — receiving the same pay and benefits as before — and that he would see if they could work together.
Hayes objected then, and brought it up again after the vote for her successor, saying Gutheil had always intended to replace Bock.
“It was cut and dried since Day 1,” he said. “I still don’t appreciate the way she was hung out there.”
When she was not re-appointed in April, Bock was not happy. She wanted the permanency of an appointment, which typically lasts one to two years. Without it, she said, she felt like she was in limbo. One night, she begged Gutheil to fire her and walked out of a meeting, at which she is supposed to take notes and write up minutes. She did not return to work for three weeks, using sick time and some scheduled vacation days.
After her return, she said she had urged Gutheil to replace her as soon as possible, but privately she sent in her resume to be considered with the other applicants. Her job ended automatically as soon as Kelleher was appointed Wednesday night. Bock worked Wednesday, but did not attend the meeting that night.
Board members received many resumes and interviewed several candidates before choosing Kelleher. Gutheil declined to release her resume but said she was “highly qualified” with a background in the relevant skills.
“I want to surround myself with key people, good people. The best you can get,” he said. “The way the village has been run, with a part-time mayor, you need good people.”
Kelleher’s appointment was effective immediately at a salary of $48,000. She will start work soon.
“I think she’s up for the challenge,” Gutheil said.
The board is still looking for a new public works superintendent. The new employee will have to pass a civil service exam and score in the top three to keep the job when the exam is offered next year.
“That scares a lot of people off,” Gutheil said. “But I want someone who can pass the test.”