At the Feb.2 council meeting, the Saratoga Town Council moved closer to filling the town clerk position that has been empty since the Dec. 31, 2020 resignation of Suzie Cox.
The council accepted the job description for the town clerk position that has been under review the past several months and approved it for publication.
Since Cox’s resignation, duties have been shared by Assistant Town Clerk and Treasurer Brenda Mistelske; Sammy Flohr town treasurer; and Pam Paulson, of Hanna, a temporary contract worker assisting with payroll. Cindy Papisan, of Medicine Bow has agreed to fill in as the Saratoga Municipal Court Clerk, also on a contract basis.
The first advertising for this position will not be in the two local papers, but on Wamcat, the Wyoming Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers website.
This job posting is only open until March 1.
At the suggestion of Josh Wood, the town will consider advertising this job with the Wyoming Classified Ad Network to reach approximately 39 Wyoming papers around the state, including the Saratoga Sun. This ad coverage however will not include the Rawlins Times or the other papers along I-80, owned by the APG Media of the Rockies company, including the Rocket Miner, the Boomerang, and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in Cheyenne. It also will not include the Casper Star Tribune. However, this advertising was postponed due to the high cost of such a large ad until the next council meeting.
PARAMETERS OF THE POSITION
This job listing describes the expected duties of a town clerk. Among the major responsibilities are:
• To be responsible for the overall direction of the town hall administrative office.
• To work closely with the public by responding to verbal and written requests and providing information from town files and records.
• To assist the Town Treasurer in analyzing financial records to forecast the future financial positions and budget requirements of the town.
• To maintain a system of control to ensure that expenditures do not exceed appropriations.
• To inform and update the Mayor and Town Council on town activities on a regular basis.
• To perform the Town Clerk functions as required by State Statutes.
A number of things stand out on this list of duties. The first is that a system of control is specified “to ensure that expenditures do not exceed appropriations.” This would be very appropriate to highlight since the previous council spent the last two years trying to sort out the town’s finances for the previous 10 years-plus.
The clerk is to also assist the treasurer in analyzing the town’s financial records to forecast the future financial positions and budget requirements of the town and then regularly inform and update the Mayor and Council on town activities.
The second major change in this job is that there is no mention in this document of the town clerk having any responsibility for payroll or check writing. In the past, the clerk did the payroll and wrote the checks, not the treasurer.
The third change is that the clerk will have no responsibility being the town’s municipal court clerk, as has been done for the last 20 years.
The listed pay range for this Clerk’s position is $37,000 to $49,000 per year, based on experience, plus benefits. The town benefit package was not discussed or listed. Based on a 40-hour work week, that makes the hourly pay of this job between $17.78 and $23.55 per hour. The benefit package provided for Saratoga employees typically equals their pay.
There was nothing listed about the required working hours for this job in this posting on Wamcat, or discussed by council, except the clerk must attend all council meetings and workshops, which usually occur in the evenings. However, tucked under the Experience and Education portion of this job listing was this small reference, “This is an FLSA exempt position.” Research found that FLSA stands for the Fair Labor Standards Act. This means since this job meets the FLSA standards, overtime pay will not be paid on this job because of these labor rules.
Pam Paulson’s contract to do the town’s payroll was discussed at length.
During the first council meeting in January, after being seated, the council accepted Cox’s resignation and then agreed to pay her a contract wage of $50 per hour to continue to assist the town until a new clerk could be found. The arrangement was quickly discontinued in the first week in January, when Pam Paulson, former treasurer of Hanna was hired at this same contract rate.
Paulson’s temporary hiring at the hourly rate at $50 per hour is for up to 10 hours a week and was finally formalized at the Jan. 19 meeting in a motion made by Councilman Ben Spaulding and seconded by Councilman Jon Nelson and unanimously approved. The new agreement does not specify any end date or length of time for this contract.
The mayor spent considerable meeting time discussing this contract the town has with Paulson and indirectly addressed the overage paid to her, in the bills paid earlier in the meeting.
“One concern I do have is initially I know we put a cap of 10 hours per week or 20 hours per pay period,” on Paulson’s pay,” said James. “[Her time] was 23.5 hours in the first week and the last week was 15.5 hours.”
He then went on to explain why her contract hours were over the 20-hour limit, that she was helping the town treasurer getting 1099 forms out, plus doing many end-of-year assignments. Those hours add up to $1,950 due Paulson for the last two weeks, while she was paid $2,620.10.
James warned the public and the council, there might be growing pains, as the town attempts to get things imputed correctly. He discussed how time consuming it was for Paulson to get the payroll and other things entered properly into the town’s complicated Caselle software system.
“Once we get it going correctly, then it sounds like it will be much easier and much quicker,” he said.
The need for a Municipal Court Clerk was also an item brought up by Mayor James for council discussion. “One of the issues we are having right now is someone to cover the Clerk of the Court stuff,”