Council accepts finance chief#8217;s resignation

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

Despite some impassioned pleas in her favor, the resignation of Ironton Finance Director Cindy Anderson was accepted Monday night by the Ironton City Council.

A replacement for the 19-year city employee was not named, but finance department

employee Carol Moore was given the ability to sign payroll and other necessary duties during the hiring process.

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Anderson said she was unfairly chastised by members of the Ironton City Council on at least two occasions. The conflict stems from a meeting of the finance committee that Anderson missed.

Anderson said she missed the meeting after an unexpected emergency at her husband’s workplace kept her at home with her children. Discipline for the former employee was discussed in the public meeting, as well as later at an executive session, prompting her resignation.

Councilman Bob Cleary began the meeting with a half-hour long plea that council not accept the resignation and attempt to win Anderson back. Cleary, who had worked for Anderson for years, said that not only was her performance unimpeachable, the city simply couldn’t afford the search process at this moment.

“I think the city of Ironton is in its darkest hour right now,” Cleary said. “There’s no one we can hire, that I know of, that can just come in off the street and do any of this.”

Cleary suggested that not only should they ask Anderson to reconsider, but that they should fully fund the position of assistant finance director, a position that they had unfunded in the 2006 budget.

Councilman Butch Huff said he was worried that the damage between Anderson and the council would have been irreparable after they discussed her absence in public.

“Given some of our mistakes, I think it’s going to be extremely difficult to have a working relationship,” Huff said.

Huff said that he hadn’t meant to offend Anderson with the executive session, but rather provide an opportunity for both parties to clear the air.

This is Anderson’s second resignation — she had quit once before in July of 2004 before returning — and councilman Rick Meeks said he was worried that Anderson would be brought back she might leave her post again at another crucial time.

“I realize that Cindy has a lot on her plate, we all agree to that,” Meeks said. “But if she quits just because she was questioned one time, what happens if she gets upset again later? ‘Oh, they’re wrong, I quit.’ She left at a time that was crucial to the city. She knew what was going on.”

Later, when asked by Council Chairman Chuck O’Leary if Anderson had treated the mayor’s staff “OK,” Mayor John Elam said that she hadn’t.

“No,” Elam said. “And that’s hearing that from my staff.”

In the end, Anderson’s resignation was accepted by a slim margin, with O’Leary, Huff, Meeks and Rich Blankenship voting to accept and Cleary, Richard Price and Leo Johnson voting not to accept her resignation.

Although Cleary and Price left the meeting before the executive session began, Cleary issued a grim warning before departing.

“Everything I’ve said this evening will come to pass … everything. This vote to accept her resignation is the worst vote anybody on this council has ever made. You can’t bash a person the way she was bashed,” Cleary said before turning to Blankenship. “I’m looking at you. You cannot do that and expect someone to sit back there and take it.”

The council then met in a brief executive session before reconvening and voting to give Carol Moore signatory abilities, to advertise for a new finance director and to allow themselves to contract services with software company CSSI which created the city’s accounting software — should they need help during the transition.