Saturday, October 4, 2003

New Miami fires clerk, says she bungled finances

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NEW MIAMI - Village Council has fired its clerk for what it said was poor performance, including paying bills late and failing to keep track of village finances.

Even so, Carol N. Shaw could be returned by voters in November to the position she had held for eight years.

Council voted Thursday to remove Shaw from office after Mayor Katherine Rumph-Butler invoked a rarely-used section of Ohio law and filed accusations that she was delinquent in her duties, Village Solicitor Gary Sheets explained. The council, however, does not have the authority to keep Shaw from running for office, Sheets said.

Neither Shaw nor her opponent, Juanita N. Lindy, returned a reporter's calls seeking comment Friday. Shaw was present at Thursday's meeting "and she was taking the minutes up until the point that she ceased being the clerk," Sheets said. He said Rumph-Butler has the authority to find a temporary replacement for Shaw.

Shaw's ouster is the latest upheaval to strike this one-square-mile Butler County village of about 2,500 people north of Hamilton, the county seat.

After a tumultuous 2002, which included resignations of the mayor and police chief, then the chief's plea to a charge that his property room was a mess, some residents suggested Hamilton should take over the village's operations - but that proposal never advanced.

Shaw, who says she holds a bachelor's degree in accounting, was reprimanded earlier this year for "gross neglect in paying bills," a village document says.

Also, the 2000-2001 state audit, the most recent available, listed several "material weaknesses" that said the clerk:

•  Failed to properly record nearly $22,000 in grant money.

•  Failed to properly record $24,416 in capital improvements money received from Butler County's Community Development program.

•  Failed to establish special revenue funds for street construction, maintenance and repair.

Furthermore, auditors said they were initially unable to locate 127 checks, but finally found all but six of them - and that the village disposed of records that it is required to keep under public records laws.

Rumph-Butler, who also could not be reached Friday, filed "charges" with Village Council on Wednesday, alleging Shaw failed to pay at least three bills, improperly documented some income and also failed to purchase copies of the Ohio Revised Code that council requested two months ago.

Vice Mayor Krystal Murray said she likes Shaw as a person and it pained her to remove Shaw from office - especially because Shaw's husband, Roger, is pastor of the church Murray attends, New Miami Wesleyan Church.

But Murray said the action was necessary because Shaw was incompetent in her duties as clerk. "I feel a full investigation is in order due to Mrs. Shaw's neglect and carelessness in office," Murray said. "The people of New Miami work very hard to pay their tax money. It is my job to make sure the money is not wasted."


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