Monticello appoints new 'treasurer'
Story by Eli Ruiz
MONTICELLO July 23, 2013 Though Mayor Gordon Jenkins’ stated purpose for the “Mayor’s Appointment” portion of last Thursday’s emergency Village Board meeting was “the treasurer,” the mayor only ended up appointing an “account manager” to fill the vacancy created by outgoing treasurer Heather Berg.
Appointed to the position at an annual salary of $55,000 was Monroe resident Lilu Li, whose resume states that she holds both a BA as well as an MBA. Li’s last known employer was the Orange County Rural Development Advisory Corporation where she listed herself as “Fiscal Manager/Bookkeeper.”
“We really need a treasurer immediately,” said Jenkins. “Ms. Berg is getting ready to leave and we need someone to take her place. Until we get someone we’re going to call [the] treasurer the account manager.”
Village Law 4-400 stipulates that “new appointments” (not the filling of vacancies) are made by the mayor, subject to board approval.” Village Law 3-300 states that “appointed officials must reside in the village.” The law does, though, allow the village the flexibility to pass a resolution or local law expanding the residential requirement for appointed officials to the county.
“We interviewed village residents,” explained Jenkins. “We interviewed Sullivan County residents … and we interviewed Orange County residents.”
Saying he reviewed “quite a bit of resumes,” Jenkins then noted, “And out of all the interviews that we did, the requirements we were looking for [were] met by a woman by the name of Lilu and she lives in Orange County.”
Mayor Jenkins resolved to “continue the search for a candidate [for treasurer], and we’re gonna continue to look at the legal issues as far as can they be a resident of the village or not…”
Trustee Carmen Rue then argued: “That’s not an appointment. That’s a motion for a contractor,” to which Jenkins responded, “I’m asking for board approval for an account manager.”
Rue went on: “I have a problem. You [Mayor Jenkins] and Heather prepared a budget that’s supposed to be approved next Tuesday… who is going to answer the questions about the budget?”
“Heather would be on board to answer the questions,” responded Jenkins.
Asked if he’d discussed with Berg her staying on a few more weeks to finish training Li, Jenkins answered, “Yeah. She wants to train, but she wants to leave ASAP. She doesn’t want to stay here.”
Jenkins’ appointment did eventually pass board muster, with Rue the only dissenter, and at Trustee Larissa Bennett’s urging, the board further resolved to attempt to keep Berg on until Saturday, July 27.
“By the start of August it will be done and we can continue our search” said Bennett.
Regarding the village’s new account manager, Rue said to Jenkins, “She’s a sweet lady. It’s not personal, but Sullivan County has 77,000 residents… I have a problem that we cannot find a treasurer in Sullivan County.”
As for Berg, asked in an interview with the Democrat why she was leaving her post, she said, “Boy, its been quite the experience. Really, it’s because of the utter dysfunction, the harassment and the bullying.” Berg further offered as another reason she’s eager to leave the village treasurer post the alleged “harassment” from Village Code Enforcement Officer James Snowden. “He comes by all the time citing me for my son having his bike on the lawn,” said Berg. “It’s not right.”
Asked if she intended to stay on board until July 27 to train Li, Berg said, “I don’t know.” Berg did offer a glowing endorsement for Li, though. “She’s perfect for the job. She has tons of experience in China as well as in the States. She’s gonna do a great job.”
Called for comment on Berg’s allegations, Snowden was incredulous. “That’s just ridiculous,” he exclaimed. “If I’m citing her for her son’s bicycle being on the lawn then there should be a paper trail… where is all the documentation? It’s not true. A few years ago my assistant cited her for all the trash that was strewn throughout her property but it’s been a while since I’ve spoken to Heather.”
Asked if he was indeed harassing Berg, Snowden said, “In all the years I’ve been around I’ve only spoke to Heather maybe four times total. Don’t get me wrong, Heather is a great person, but she needs to get her facts straight.”