By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw
WARSAW — It appears the working relationship between Winona Lake Town Council and the clerk-treasurer has hit rock bottom.
Problems surfaced months ago when clerk Laurie Renier began feuding over record keeping and payment of town bills and the problems have apparently continued to simmer.
Renier has not attended or participated online in at least the last two council meetings including one Tuesday night.
The latest spat involves the preparation of the 2024 budget. Town officials claim Renier suggested they just use the 2023 budget as a template for 2024
As a result, the town approved an agreement with former clerk-treasurer Retha Hicks to provide consulting services. Hicks will provide advice to the town council, but officials said the council will make final decisions on related matters.
Hicks will be paid $40 per hour and could receive up to $5,000 this year for her work.
On top of that, the council has created two committees — one for budget preparation and another to help department heads understand protocols related to working with the clerk.
Renier hired an attorney to represent her earlier this year in the ongoing dispute and then submitted a $3,400 bill which the council has declined to pay.
Town council member Ashley McGinnis discussed the budget issue afterward.
“Since there’s some issues with getting that accomplished, that’s why we did the budget committee, because we would still l like to move forward in the ways that we can to plan for next year,” she said.
“It’s not what anyone wanted, I think,” she added, referring to the overall situation.
In the May primary, Renier lost the Republican nomination for clerk-treasurer to town council member Heather James who will now take office in January.