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Village offers clerk job to Nassar



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March 02, 2011 - Financial experience versus municipal experience was the focus of debate by the Oxford Village Council last week as officials discussed which candidate should be the municipality's next clerk.

In the end, municipal experience won out as council voted 3-1 to offer the position to Susan Nassar, who's currently employed as clerk/treasurer for the Village of Holly.

Councilwoman Maureen Helmuth abstained from voting (see related story below).

The motion included direction for village President Teri Stiles and Manager Joe Young to negotiate an employment contract with Nassar, who lives in Ortonville, and bring it back to council for approval.

In addition to Holly, Nassar has experience as the deputy clerk for Brandon Township and as a building department administrator for Groveland Township. She's scheduled to receive her designations as a Certified Municipal Clerk and Certified Municipal Treasurer in the spring. Nassar has both administrative and accounting experience.

The village's four-month search for a new clerk came down to Nassar and Anagha Rukadikar, both of whom impressed council with their experience, knowledge and skills.

Stiles favored Nassar because her municipal experience means she could get to work right away in the short-staffed village office that's been plagued by a backlog of work.

"I just think it's so important that we get up and running," she said. "We're limping."

Stiles compared the village to a "listing" ship, that is to say a boat that's leaning to one side.

"I know that sounds desperate and it sounds dramatic, but as soon as we can right ourselves, I think that we can move forward quickly," she said.

Stiles believes Rukadikar was a good candidate as well, but she had zero municipal experience.

"Not that she would have held us back, but there's a huge learning curve there," she said.

Councilman Tony Albensi, who cast the lone dissenting vote, favored Rukadikar because she's a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a 13-year financial background in the private sector. "Being a CPA, to me, that's quite impressive," he said.

Given the clerk also serves as the village's chief auditor, Albensi was of the opinion that "having a CPA in that position would be very beneficial."

"I think we could take advantage of her education, her background," he said. "The accounting experience and that accounting knowledge . . . I don't know if we could pass that up."

Albensi said council should be "thinking outside the box and getting a fresh, new face in here."

As for Rukadikar's lack of municipal experience and knowledge, Albensi said, "I think she appears to be one that could easily learn the duties of a clerk, meaning elections, minute-taking and those type of clerical things."

Although she abstained from voting, Helmuth agreed. "I think the stronger the financial background, the better for whoever we put in that position," she said.

Councilman Dave Bailey expressed his preference to see Nassar hired as clerk and Rukadikar as treasurer.

"I would like to see both hired," he said.

Albensi reminded Bailey that, according to the village charter, council hires the clerk and the village manager hires the treasurer.

"It's not our place to tell Joe (Young) who to hire to work for him," Albensi said.

The only thing council can do is provide funding for the treasurer position in the village budget.

"We should not be putting pressure on (Young)," Albensi said. "We should not be strongly advising him. We give him the money to do it, he does it."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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