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updated: 10/17/2010 10:40 PM

Confusion surrounds Pingree Grove clerk position

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It has just come to the attention of Pingree Grove officials that the village clerk's position is an elected, not appointed one.

Since 2007, the board has treated it as if it was the latter.

Former Village President Verne "Bud Wester appointed Michelle Figuerola, the current village clerk, in August 2006.

In doing so, he filled a vacancy created when the previous village clerk quit. Apparently, nobody realized anything was amiss until this month.

Interim Village Manager Bill Barlow said he discovered the discrepancy while reviewing village employees' job descriptions.

On Monday, the village board is expected to discuss two things related to the issue: whether to turn the elected position into one that's appointed and whether to raise the elected position's level of compensation to $75 a meeting.

Village President Wyman "Clint Carey called the mix-up a transition issue between the two administrations.

"People had to know the position should be up for election, but nobody said anything, Carey said. "I'm glad we found out now. I apologize that it took a number of years.

With the exception of the village president, most elected officials in Pingree Grove make $75 for every meeting they attend.

The village clerk was supposed to make $25 per meeting as an elected official.

But the previous board paid Figuerola $12.50 an hour to work for the village part time because it was still dealing with annexation agreements and other issues related to its exponential growth.

"How are you going to pay someone and get the job done for $25 a meeting? Wester said, adding that there was a high rate of turnover in the position. "We had an awful lot of work then. Who are you going to get to work for that?

Wester lost his re-election bid in 2007 to Carey.

Although the village clerk's seat should have been up for grabs that year, Pingree Grove did not hold an election for the position.

In fact, there had not been an election for that seat since 1997, Barlow said.

That's because there were only 120 people in town then and nobody ran for it in those days, Wester said.

Right now, Figuerola works full time, making $38,625 a year, plus benefits. Carey acknowledged the current board agreed to her salary and benefits.

For her part, Figuerola said she was not aware of the discrepancy surrounding the position until Barlow brought it up.

Trustee Stephanie Mette says the whole thing was news to her as well.

"I'll admit it, I don't know 100 percent of everything that happens at the village 100 percent of the day, 100 percent of the time, she said.