Empire Village Council Clashes Over Budget Issues, Clerk Suspended

Heated discussion in the Village of Empire on Tuesday night among its own council member occurred after they received a budget full of questions, which led to the suspension of their clerk.

Seats were packed in the Empire Township Hall after the village president suspended village clerk Traci Cruz over the weekend.

The village president says Cruz neglected her duties, including with the village’s budget.

Village president Sam Barr told the council it started with their most recent budget, one of the clerk’s duties to create.

Barr said during the meeting, comparing Cruz’s budget with a recent audit, he found several discrepancies, including odd budget changes compared to last year and inconsistent publications of that budget.

The numbers were presented to the council.

“I’m extremely frustrated,” Barr said. “I put many hours into this to make this document work with our budget. When I got to the point where I tried to communicate some of these, I got rebuffed and at that point I suspended our clerk.”

Other council members like Chris Frey noticed other discrepancies — including fluctuating wages maintenance.

“People have made changes here and you are saying you are correct in the changes,” Frey said. “You just doubled  the wages maintenance for the current year we are in and today is the last day of this year’s budget..”

We will update you as soon as they make a decision on a date for a special meeting determining the clerk’s position.