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Clerk Refuses To Sign Passed Ordinance That Reduces Duties; Signature Not Needed

By Charlie Feldman

When the Glen Carbon Village Board passed an ordinance 5-0 taking the duty of issuing business licenses away from the village clerk and giving it to the village administrator at a recent meeting, the clerk refused to sign it.

Ross Breckenridge refused to add his signature attesting that the ordinance had passed until the village referred it to its legal advisor. He would abide with the decision that was made, he said.

Village Attorney Jim Schrempf did some research and made his decision.

“The ordinance is valid whether the clerk signs it or not,” he said. “The form that has his signature is simply attesting that the mayor’s signature is valid like a notary.”

Schrempf said that he had never encountered a case like this.

The issue began in January when Breckenridge notified Police Chief Todd Link that he would not issue licenses to businesses that were not complying with the governor’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Mayor Rob Jackstadt had concerns about the clerk directing policy in regards to business licenses.

“In response to that I was asked to look into ‘Does the clerk have that authority?’,” Schrempf said. “I looked into that.”

Under the village code, he said, the clerk was responsible for receiving and evaluating applications and issuing business licenses.

“At the same time the clerk had expressed a number of times his fear and concern about making personal appearances – certainly our meetings, perhaps Village Hall – so I suggested that he did have that authority and I think I concluded with a question of perhaps there should be consideration given of transferring the business licensing duties from the clerk to the village administrator, who is a full-time position presumably here all the time,” he said.  “At some time I was given direction by both the mayor and the village administrator to draft such an ordinance. That’s what I did.”

Breckenridge said at the last village board meeting that the ordinance wasn’t passed properly and that it would cause transparency issues.

His term as village clerk ends after the April election when either Kathy Perry-Scaturro or Christal L. Laswell is elected to the position.

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