Brazil Clerk-Treasurer Karen McQueen and Deputy Clerk-Treasurer Raymond Staub recently completed training during the annual Indiana League of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers (ILMCT) Institute at Ball State University, Muncie, March 8-13.
"I was a lot more comfortable this time around because a lot of the same people were there as last year," McQueen said. "Plus, with more than a year under my belt, I am a little more seasoned and knew what to expect."
Among the highlights of their training were courses in how to overcome budget shortfalls due to the fledgling economy, conflict resolution and computer courses to prepare more in-depth financial statements.
"One of the ways suggested to overcome potential shortfalls was to establish new license fees, like for electricians or plumbers," McQueen said. "Another option given during the training was to possibly establish a cemetery board, which would be able to solicit additional funding for the upkeep of local cemeteries."
McQueen added cemeteries provide potential hazards like the falling of a gravestone, which could affect the city's insurance costs.
This year, McQueen was able to take Staub along to provide the opportunity to not only get a better feel for the job, but to meet other clerk-treasurers throughout the state. Staub became deputy clerk-treasurer at the beginning of the year as part of personnel changes that were made at City Hall.
"For me, the best aspects of the training came from the conflict resolution course and networking with the other people there," Staub said. "By talking with other clerk-treasurer's you learn about so many unique situations that might not be expected."
Staub also said learning more about conflict resolution was particularly important given the nature of the job.
"We meet and talk to many people each day," he said. "The class showed us how work with various personality traits and, by identifying them, how to prevent or diffuse potentially volatile situations."
McQueen was especially grateful to have Staub along for the training because it allowed for a second set of ears to soak in all the information.
"If I didn't quite understand one of the concepts, I could ask Raymond because he may have a better understanding," McQueen said. "Plus, if an issue comes up down the line I can refer to him to get confirmation or a different perspective on the interpretation.
McQueen said that some of the clerk-treasurers left the conference on March 9 to travel to Indianapolis to lobby against a bill that would potentially change the position from one that is elected to one that is appointed by the mayor.
"We were so happy when we got a call during the training letting us know that the bill had died," McQueen said.
The training moves McQueen ever closer to becoming a Indiana Accredited Municipal Clerk (IAMC), Certified Municipal Clerk (CMC) and other certifications that come with two years of training while it also gives Staub a start on his as well.
"I want to keep up with all of the new ideas and options that come with the responsibilities of this job," she said. "It was one of my campaign promises and I intend to keep moving forward in gaining more valuable experience."
But in the end, both McQueen and Staub acknowledged the best thing about attending training sessions is connecting with other clerk-treasurers and knowing they can contact them in the future if they need to.
"Situations may arise here that we may not have encountered before, but we can contact the people we met who may know an exact plan of action," Staub said. "While it may not be exactly how we would need to go about things here, it is good to know we can get help from them for guidance and suggestions. It really makes the possibilities for learning new things endless."