The Ely Times

The Ely City Council held a special meeting last week to approve the hiring of Hinton & Burdick to provide accounts payable and payroll services for the City of Ely.

At the beginning of the meeting, Rick Stork spoke during public comment, “You guys are throwing money out the window for no reason. If Bob (Switzer) is not capable of doing the city treasurer job, get rid of him, you’re wasting taxpayers money.  You guys need to do your homework a little bit better.”

Mayor Melody VanCamp said, “Myself and Bob have spoke to McKay on the phone and reached out to a local accountant to see if we could possibly get some satisfaction. We are struggling to try to hire sufficient people for these positions.”

Switzer, the city administrator, spoke before the council asking them before they had any questions for McKay he wanted to note that the city has advertised for the city treasurer position in Reno, Las Vegas and metro areas.

According to Switzer, the city has spent over $1,300 to advertise.  The position has also been posted on  Switzer informed the council and public that they have received a total of four applications, one which they receive the day of the meeting.

“None of the applicants have the qualifications set forth in our own ordinances,” Switzer said. “As you recall, former City Treasurer Trask had come before the council and said that she would be helping complete both accounts and accounts payable until we found a suitable replacement. In the last week of June, former City Treasurer Trask came to me, gave me all the accounts payable files and said here you go,” Switzer said.

Switzer continued on about Trask explaining that subsequent to her handing the files over to him she continued doing payroll “as recent as little over two weeks ago she said she would be able to complete the payroll function through the end of this month. That didn’t last but two days until I received her keys,” Switzer said.

The big concern of having a accounting company take over the payroll and accounts payable was that the pay period for city employees was ending the following day of the meeting so need was critical.

Councilman Sam Hanson said “I think we have an urgent need before us. I think it would be prudent to make a motion to accept Hinton & Burdick’s offer. At this point in time while we continue to seek a permanent treasurer. We don’t have someone doing this right now, who is going to Until we can get someone in a permanent nature, to satisfy our desires i think it’s the best option available.”

But Councilman Tony DeFelice had a different opinion.

“Just by hearsay, your thinking it could be 15-20 hours a week for this type of service?” he said. “Bob, I would expect you to do everything you have to do, until we do get a finance person in place, if you have to work a little bit extra, that comes with the part of the territory that’s just my opinion.”

Switzer quickly responded, “Councilmen DeFelice there are a number of functions I do, I don’t think you really understand what I do, you really don’t.”

DeFelice begins to ask Switzer how many hours he works. Switzer, appearing to become irritated, said, “I put in 40 plus hours..Mr. DeFelice, this past weekend I was here Saturday and Sunday.”

City Attorney Chuck Odgers said, “Mr. Switzer…DeFelice you have gone a little to far on this item.”

DeFelice interrupts Odgers, “Chuck you’re wrong.”

Odgers said, “In order to prevent a open meeting law violation, I’m saying you are outside the agenda item.”

DeFelice said, “Chuck you’re wrong, we are having a discussion, we are deliberating.”

Odgers said, “We are not deliberating, you’re making statements to contractual issues.”

DeFelice said, “Chuck you’re wrong.”

Odgers said, “I’m trying to stop a open meeting law violation.”

DeFelice said, “I’m having a conversation with Bob. If it takes a 100 hours a week until we do get this thing resolved, that goes under Bob’s umbrella at this point. My point is, shame on us if we are only working 40 hours a week, or 50 hours a week, we should be working whatever it takes.”

VanCamp attempts to deescalate the situation,  “Bob doesn’t have the expertise that McKay has to do the payroll, and the PERS and that’s what the question was.”

Switzer “I just wanted to remind the council that a year and a half ago we had a sanction from PERS due to not having our PERS accounts in full compliance and that’s the overwriting situation I wanted to make sure that we get our PERS reports and payments on time and accurate, and it took our city treasurer almost a year to get us back into compliance.”

DeFelice continued to press the issue of why Switzer wasn’t picking up the treasurer’s duties until a replacement was found.

“I would expect an extra two hours a day until we get this figured out, that’s what I would expect from a salary employee,” he said.

Hanson asked DeFelice if he had reviewed Switzer’s job description, telling DeFelice, “This is a discussion for another agenda item.”

DeFelice said, “Let me tell you where you’re wrong, the finance person would be under Bob true or not?”

Hanson said, “He supervises, so he doesn’t know every detail.”

DeFelice said, “He should.  Their reporting to him, he’s got to know that, he’s got to be the expert.”

The motion came to approve this item, and was voted down 3-2 with Flangas, DeFelice, and Carson voting against it, and Gardner and Hanson voting for it.

Rick Stork spoke during public comment once again telling the council and mayor, “You guys would not be in the shape you are in now looking for a financial person had Bob answered his questions truthfully during his interview August 21 in 2014.

“Mayor, you asked him can you do city budgets? His answer was yes. Can you do bank account reconciliation? His answer was yes….it was all about financial, that was the reason you hired him.”

George Chachas spoke during public comment asking the council to reconsider their vote.

Councilwoman Jolene Gardner said “at least we’d have someone to do the payroll correctly. Carson said “I remember when the PERS got messed up and I don’t want to do that to the employees, I would reopen it up for 30 days.

Hanson made the motion to accept offer to be re-evaluated in 30 days.  Motion was approved 4-1 with DeFelice against it. The city will be paying Hinton & Burdick and additional $1,700 a month for this service.