South Beloit Commissioner claims unfair treatment
By Jim Hagerty, Staff Writer
Since the South Beloit City Council moved to transfer an employee from the Department of Public Property to another division within the city in May, Commissioner Pam Clifton said her ability to perform her duties as an elected official has been disrupted.
Clifton further claims the measure to move her only employee is unfair and against the advice of legal council and state and local law.
“We (South Beloit) are in the middle of collective bargaining,” Clifton explained. “The city’s labor attorney said it was not an good idea to move my only employee.”
As Commissioner of Public Property, Clifton is responsible for supervising the repair and upkeep of all public buildings and city property. This includes mowing lawns, cleaning and maintenance.
Clifton has been on the South Beloit City Council for seven years. For five years, she has run her department with one employee. With the employee now moved, she must run her department’s service requests through the South Beloit Street Department.
Clifton alleges she is the only council member now required to answer to a department supervisor.
“No one commissioner is more important than another,” Clifton said. “All have the exact same rights and responsibilities under state law, despite the fact that we run different departments. I cannot help but feel that with this move, I am being treated differently.”
Since her employee was transferred, Clifton asserts, several regular grounds-keeping duties, such as mowing, have been put off and only completed when she’s pressed other officials and grass has reached unsightly lengths.
“I no longer have control over the work my department is responsible for,” she said. “We are elected officials.”
Rockford attorney Roxanne Sosnowski, in response to Clifton’s request for legal opinion, stated she is unaware of any provision in state or local statute that would require a commissioner of any department to run requests for service through another department supervisor or commissioner.
Sosnowski noted the South Beloit Code of Ordinances (Chapter 2, Article 4) states the Commissioner of Public Property should have complete supervision over all public property and buildings, except those assigned to other city divisions.
Sosnowski also noted the City Council’s decision to transfer Clifton’s employee to another department would, in fact, impede her power as an elected supervisor, as stated in the South Beloit City Code of Ordinances.
“Statutes must be respected,” Clifton said.
Clifton said she hasn’t been given a sensible reason for the council’s measure.
“I think they feel they should spread the work to six other people, when quality work has always been done with just one employee,” she said. “I also think some employees are being favored and residents need to know this.”
Attempts to contact South Beloit Mayor Randy Kirichkow were unsuccessful.
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