Michelle Atherton, the new Lanark City Treasurer, left, with Clerk Jackie Hawbecker. (PA photo/J. Huggins)
By JOHN HUGGINS | For The Prairie Advocate News
LANARK – The recent appointment of Michelle Atherton as the new treasurer for the City of Lanark has caused some confusion for some members of the public.
“People ask me why I quit,” said Jackie Hawbecker, Lanark City Clerk and former treasurer. She did not quit. She will continue in the elected position of clerk. And, she will be running for re-election of the office this April.
In the past the treasurer was an elected position. In August 2010 the city council voted to permanently change the position from elected to appointed.
Hawbecker has served as clerk since 1998. She took on the added responsibility of treasurer when she was appointed to that position in 2004. No one ran that year, so the mayor appointed her. She has held the dual role since then, except for brief periods when Karen Sloan and the late Linda Ludwig filled the treasurer position.
The mayor and council followed the advice of their auditors to appoint another person as treasurer to add accountability, and add another layer of checks and balances to protect against situations such as that the City of Dixon recently faced.
Atherton was chosen from three candidates the mayor had presented, and was sworn in on February 5, 2013. She has experience in accounting, working in the accounts receivable department at Kunes’ Country Auto Group in Mount Carroll. She also serves as an Emergency Medical Technician on the Lanark Fire Department.
“Another question I hear is, ‘Why is the city spending more money on hiring another person?’” stated Hawbecker. “I tell them that they aren’t, they are just paying Michelle now instead of me.”
The two positions have distinctly different roles. The clerk keeps all the records of city, records minutes at the meetings, receives payments from water and sewer bills, creates year end and fiscal year reports, and various other duties. The treasurer handles all the financial transactions, accounts payable and accounts receivable, generates financial reports, manages the TIF district funds, and other financial responsibilities.
At this time, Atherton is still in training. The city council has not given her any set office hours. Public hours for City Hall are Monday and Thursday 9:00 am to 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm. If you have any questions about the positions and their duties or any other question about city operations, you are encouraged to call the Lanark City Hall at 815-493-2431.