By Ann Marie Shambaugh
The Carmel City Council held a special meeting June 9 to unanimously approve $220,000 to launch a Christkindl market, but Clerk-Treasurer Christine Pauley does not think the vote should stand.
“I consider the council’s actions last Friday to be null and void,” Pauley stated in an email on June 12. “They did not receive a properly executed claim for approval.”
Pauley – who said she did not attend the meeting “due to other pressing city financial matters” but authorized Deputy Clerk-Treasurer Jacob Quinn to attend – refused to certify the claim, which her office initially received May 23. She asked for more time to review it, as it did not include information on how the $220,000 would be spent other than to help launch the market. Most city claims are itemized, she said.
City Attorney Doug Haney stated that Pauley’s decision on whether to certify a claim should only be based on if the claim is “true and correct.”
“There is nothing that I have seen or been provided that even remotely suggests that either the claim at issue or its supporting documentation is untrue or incorrect,” Haney stated. “Therefore, I see no legal basis for the clerk-treasurer’s continued refusal to certify this claim for payment.”
City spokesman Dan McFeely said that if Pauley fails to play the claim, the city can request a writ of mandamus, a court order that compels a public official to fulfill his or her duties. If she still refuses, she could be held in contempt of court and could face a fine or jail time.
Pauley said that Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard verbally committed to providing a budget for the market this week.
“Once provided, the claim will be considered fully itemized, allowing me to fulfill my statutory responsibility,” she said.
McFeely, who is also president of the Christkindl market’s nonprofit board of directors, told Current he could not provide a breakdown of how the $220,000 would be spent because “the budget has not been completed or reviewed by the board.”
Pauley expects to add the claim to the June 19 city council meeting agenda. The council called the special meeting June 9 to avoid waiting to approve the claim until the regularly scheduled June 19 meeting so that bills could be paid, Brainard said.
City Councilor Jeff Worrell, who was originally a board member of the nonprofit set up by Haney to help run the Christkindl market, said prior to the special meeting that the meeting was needed to allocate funds for “expenses that have already been created.”
Worrell said he stepped down once he realized how much of a time commitment it would be and that others might be more qualified. McFeely replaced him as president of the three-member board.
Another board member is Martin Baier, president of The International Center, which works to expand Indiana’s global interest through various programs and services. The Carmel resident was born in Germany and served as a lieutenant colonel in the German Air Force. He was also the owner of All German Solutions LLC, a “cross-cultural consulting company” according to The International Center’s website.
Karen Poyser, a Carmel resident and longtime supporter of the arts, is the third member of the board.