Committee discusses assistant city clerk

PARKERSBURG -After a confusing vote and discussion Tuesday, a Parkersburg City Council assistant clerk position remains in place, for now, officials said Wednesday.

The position came up for review this week after committee members last week discussed whether to make the city clerk position full-time or leave it part-time. Officials eventually decided to leave the position part-time but review it again in June.

Discussion of the assistant clerk position did not go as well. The position is held by Dan Huffman, who also acts as parking supervisor and municipal court supervisor for the city. The assistant clerk position costs council about $5,000 and only accounts for a fraction of Huffman’s duties, said Mayor Bob Newell. In most instances, he said, Huffman is answering phones during the two days City Clerk Connie Shaffer is not in the office, in addition to his other duties.

“No offense, but he doesn’t do $5,000 worth of clerk work,” Newell said.

Councilwoman Sharon Lynch, who is chair of the personnel committee, said she didn’t see a need for the position when last week the committee decided council could operate with only a part-time city clerk.

“I’m having trouble understanding why last week we needed someone three days a week and now we need someone five days a week,” she said. “Either we need them or we don’t.”

Shaffer recently said the duties of the city clerk have changed in recent years, with some work being shifted to other departments, and may not require a full-time person.

Newell said if the assistant clerk position is eliminated, it would not change Huffman’s pay or other duties, only which part of the budget that $5,000 of his pay comes from.

Lynch repeatedly said the committee’s consideration was no reflection on Huffman’s performance.

“It’s not Dan,” she said. “It’s the position.”

Committee members and officials became confused after a motion to tie the position to the existing city clerk job, which will be up for review in June, failed on a 2-2 vote.

The vote followed a motion that died for lack of a second by Councilwoman Nancy Wilcox to immediately end the assistant clerk position.

Newell asked for clarification, saying in his estimation the position had been ended by the vote. Lynch said the failed vote indicated no change.

Newell said Wednesday he spoke with city attorney Joe Santer following the meeting.

“He said that position was put in by ordinance by city council,” Newell said. “Council would have to rescind the ordinance to remove the position.”

Officials said the position will likely come up for discussion again June 30 when the city clerk position is reviewed.