From the Housing Authority in White County to the operations of the County Treasurer’s Office, the County Board has provided a platform for some high blood pressure situations over the last 3 months. In March, a special meeting to discuss the White County Housing Authority escalated into heated exchanges. Most recently, County Treasurer Pam Armstrong has come under fire and a special meeting commenced Thursday evening. Not surprisingly, a similar experience followed with a packed courtroom made up of mostly individuals turning out to defend the target of the meeting. In both instances, there were individuals who took issue with how the office is operating, but they were far outnumbered.
Board Chair Ron McAnulty opened the meeting.
McAnulty would go on with his opening statement asserting that anyone who wanted would be given an opportunity to speak saying they would be given two minutes and would need to approach the board and state their name before giving their remarks. Over the next hour, only one individual abided by that request and it was mostly a group conversation that resembled Great Britain’s parliamentary procedures with interruptions and occasional raised voices.
Treasurer Armstrong opened her unofficial defense saying she hadn’t been notified of the meeting. Our review shows her office’s official email was sent the notice and agenda at the same time as media, other board members, and office holders. Armstrong went on…
Furthermore, she would say that she understood the public perception was that she was responsible for the tax bills being mailed late the last 2 years.
From there, she says she attempted to, as a courtesy to tax payers, accept pre-payments through December 31st so tax payers could deduct those payments from their tax returns which she says created a nightmare.
Ultimately, Armstrong would go on to say that her attempt to assist taxpayers by offering those pre-payments blew up in her face. Many of the complaints seem to surround Armstrong not being available at the office, allegedly not returning calls, and clerical errors. More on that shortly. Before that, the room dealt with some of the rumors that were swirling including board member Ken Usery saying the county had been threatened with law suits. That turned into a melee of comments during which you can’t identify every individual speaking.
From there, the Supervisor of Assessments office took center stage.
County employee Sheila Headlee raised the question of security with Armstrong working remotely.
Former County Board Chair David Dosher weighed in.
Without any real resolving of that, Ken Davis who pays taxes in White and Vermillion County spoke. He drove about 3 ½ hours to attend the meeting and address the public. Michelle Winters, who works in the Treasurer’s office, admitted to being responsible for the mistake and responded saying the Davis’ should’ve called even more often to get results. That preceded Bill Chapman to ask…and for Tim York to answer with another question…
Armstrong says as long as the Supervisor of Assessments office is on time, taxpayers can count on her office to have tax bills out on time.
The final discussion surrounded procedure and that calling these meetings isn’t fruitful. That proved partially true as the board never entered into the executive session they’d listed on the agenda. As loud as the meeting got, it ended with a whimper about an hour a 5 minutes after it began.