HIGH SPRINGS – In the midst of a recurring trend associated with employee layoffs, High Springs City Clerk Jenny Parham finds her position the next to fall under the questioning gaze of at least one city commissioner.
After voicing his lack of confidence in the city clerk and the city finance services director in a previous meeting, Vice Mayor Bob Barnas elaborated on his earlier comments during the April 12 commission meeting saying Parham needs to refocus on the good of the city.
“I feel, with my vote of no confidence, the city’s not getting what they should,” Barnas said.
Parham has worked 24 years with the City of High Springs, but Barnas said, “Does that mean we owe you something or does that mean you owe us something?”
According to the City of High Springs Charter, the city clerk works at the pleasure of the commission, said Barnas. During the April 12 commission meeting, Barnas said to Parham and the other commissioners that there are choices available regarding the city clerk position.
“Do a resolution and send her down the road, or do nothing,” he said. Barnas stated that he did ask for a resolution prior to the April 12 meeting, but he was unable to get one.
“If you’re directed to do something, it is done immediately,” Barnas said. “On the part of taking the initiative, to perhaps force the commission to get you help, on saying it needs to be done, on saying the scanners not working, on saying the tax parcels are in a drawer and we need to deal with those things – the constant little things that have just irritated the snot out of me,” Barnas added.
Only six years away from retirement, Parham suggested to the commission that they bring a part-time clerk on staff to learn from her and to help her with daily tasks. With the nearly insurmountable amount of records that need to be scanned, Parham said the task would be finished a lot quicker if she had someone to help.
Barnas agreed, saying that Parham was the city’s intellectual capital. He wants to bring on a part-time person who would eventually become full-time, and he or she would be able to help in case Parham was unavailable for any reason.
When the city brings on the assistant clerk, Barnas said the salary should come from reductions in the paychecks of Parham and the finance services director, Helen McIver. Other departments are working for a lot less, such as the police chief and the fire chief, said Barnas.
“I have been here longer than any department head you have,” Parham said. “I make less than any department head you have. I have less help than any department head you have, and I don’t think it’s fair to cut my salary.”
Last year, Parham said, the city didn’t have the money to bring on extra staff, so she took on the city clerk position because she was trying to help the city.
Newly elected Commissioner Scott Jamison said it was ironic that other commissioners were acknowledging how much work Parham had and how impossible it was to do it on her own, yet in the same statement, they were holding her accountable for it.
“Certain employees you need to prod, and certain employees you don’t,” he said.
Commissioner Sue Weller said she has every confidence in Parham, and Mayor Dean Davis said he has never asked Parham to do anything that she didn’t do.
In a follow-up phone call to Vice Mayor Barnas, he refused to comment on his statements and his reasoning for requesting a resolution to fire Parham or about why he wants to reduce the pay for the city clerk and city finance services director.
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