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Town officer steps down

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The Town Council of Elizabethtown has begun searching for a new clerk-treasurer after the resignation of Gail Greathouse, who is facing federal charges of wire fraud and filing a false tax return.

“Right now, the position is officially empty, and we are in process of trying to find someone who can fill it temporarily and then on a permanent basis,” Fred Barnett, one of three town council members, said Wednesday.

As soon as possible, Town Council President Eric Peery said he’ll appoint a temporary clerk-treasurer as allowed by state law, but he said finding a qualified, willing person to take the job might prove difficult. The job will be part time, but a salary has yet to be set.

Greathouse was paid $1,800 a year from the town’s budget, Barnett said. That amount is what is in the town’s current budget for the position, he said.

Clerk-treasurer duties

Residence rules: A clerk-treasurer has to live in the town he or she serves.

Duties for a town clerk-treasurer in Indiana include:

Oversee the town’s accounts, pay bills only on order of the town legislative body.

Handle payroll and account forms for all town offices.

Manage the finances of the town and make investments.

Issue all licenses and collect the appropriate fees.

Act as clerk for the town council, attend its meetings and record proceedings.

Source: Indiana Legislative Services

The town’s sewer plant also paid Greathouse about $4,000 a year from its fund for sewer billing, because it was one of her duties as clerk-treasurer, Barnett said.

“At our council meeting on Monday, we put the word out to the few people who were there,” Peery said Wednesday.

But the most recent U.S. Census data placed the population of Elizabethtown at just over 400, and that’s not a big pool of people from which to recruit, he said. Candidates must be residents of Elizabethtown to hold the position.

“Someone has to be interested, and we have to feel comfortable that they’re qualified to handle the job,” Peery said.

Under state law, it will be up to the Bartholomew County Democratic Party caucus to fill the clerk-treasurer role for Elizabethtown on a permanent basis.

Greathouse, 57, was appointed as Elizabethtown’s clerk-treasurer on Nov. 1, 1993, by then-Bartholomew County

Democratic Party Chairman Robert Harden, according to records in the Voter Registration Office at the Bartholomew County courthouse. Because of that history, the county Democratic Party is allowed under state law to fill the job now.

As a practical matter, Peery said he will work closely with the caucus to find and screen good candidates, and it’s possible that whoever steps up as temporary clerk-treasurer could win the permanent appointment as well.

Federal authorities announced last week that Greathouse is accused of defrauding an Edinburgh business of $2.1 million over a six-year period.

She faces six counts of wire fraud and one count of filing a false income tax report.

Greathouse has petitioned the U.S. District Court to enter a guilty plea to all seven counts and will likely have a court date within the next 90 days for a judge to consider her plea.

Tim Horty, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said Wednesday that it generally takes up to three months for pre-sentencing reports and other paperwork to be completed so the court can decide whether to accept a guilty plea.

Generally, in cases like this, a sentence will be handed down at the same time the court agrees to accept someone’s plea, Horty said.

Meanwhile, Elizabethtown will get interim help on financial matters from the Bartholomew County auditor’s office and advice on training the next

clerk-treasurer from a former Town of Hope clerk-treasurer until someone steps forward to take the job, Barnett said.

Since her initial appointment 20 years ago, Greathouse’s name never has appeared on an election ballot. State law allows towns to cancel elections if all the candidates running for office are unopposed.

Barnett said the town council will advertise the job in its newsletter and via word of mouth.

Barnett said there’s no hint or evidence that any Elizabethtown government funds are missing, but the town has decided to do a follow-up audit by the end of February to present a clear financial snapshot to whomever becomes Elizabethtown’s new clerk-treasurer.

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