by Lisa Tome
Rising Sun town commissioner Dave Warnick submitted an invoice requesting $40 payment for serving the town during the month of August.
His invoice charged the town for his attendance at two town meetings. In September, he will also bill for $40. In August Warnick spent $37.69 for pizza for those who volunteered at Triangle Dog Park. In September, he bought $8 worth of water for volunteers who served in Veterans Park. Both of those expenses were paid out of pocket by Warnick, who doesn't plan to bill the town.
Mayor Travis Marion said his pay was $80 for the month of August and $90 for the month of September. "I get paid to sign checks one or two times a week. I buy prizes when I go to schools (on behalf of the town) and that's $20 or $30. I also buy the ice cream for Mayor for a Day," said Marion.
"We're not in this for the money anyway," said Commissioner Allen Authenreath, last week. He introduced Resolution 2015-08, which was passed by a 2-0 vote. Authenreath and Warnick were the only voting board members present at last week's town meeting.
This resolution states that when the commissioners and mayor attend a meeting where the town pays for a meal, the board members will accept that meal instead of billing the town for attending a meeting.
"I'm not going to say the food is excellent at all these events," said Mayor Marion.
In addition to this cost cutting measure, another ordinance was introduced. Ordinance 2015-01 provides a code of conduct for elected officials.
"We've been working on it for a while," said town administrator Calvin Bonenberger. He also said that the elected body asked he and town attorney Jay Gullo to provide proper protocol for how town officials act, what they say, whom they can speak to and more. Bonenberger said this is a reaction to legal issues that the town has had. He said that "taxpayers in the town pay the consequences for the behavior of the town board."
"Over the last couple of years, elected officials took the approach that they can say or do whatever they want. The town has incurred legal fees," said Bonenberger. He also said the town insurance company put the town "on notice".
He said that when elected officials "go against" the board it is bad. He said this was enacted for the protection of the taxpayers.
The ordinance classifies commissioner duties, defines improper conduct and more. "This creates rules and regulations so the town operates in a business like manner," Bonenberger said.
It also defines how town board members deal with town staff. "Town officials can't redirect staff. They operate at the direction of the town administrator," he said. There is also a list of sanctions for board members who do not comply. Those include fines up to $500 and removal from office.
Bonenberger stated that this ordinance was created from ordinances already in place in other towns.
"This is not about making Calvin emperor of the town. It's about protecting the employees," said Warnick.