WOODMERE — Council voted 6-1 to suspend payment to three contractors who provide non-essential services to the village. The three contractors include Stephanie Gandy who managed the village website, former Woodmere police officer Amy Mengay who managed the police department’s social media and human resources consultant Jennifer Osborn of TalentSense Consulting. Councilwoman Nakeshia Nickerson was the only council member to vote against the motion.
Financial consultant Tom Cornhoff said that according to the Regional Income Tax Agency, Woodmere will lose about $224,976 in income tax withholdings this year due to businesses forced to temporarily close because of the coronavirus.
Councilwoman Lisa Brockwell made the motion to suspend payment to these contractors at the special council meeting on April 30. She is chairwoman of the council Finance Committee and said that the village needs to be “aggressive” in restricting spending and should not “get behind the eight-ball.” Earlier in the meeting, Councilwoman Glenda Todd-Miller proposed suspending all non-essential expenditures that are not related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have my eyes on our spending on a monthly basis. There’s a lot of spending that we do that is not necessary,” Ms. Todd-Miller said. “I’m not saying just totally related to COVID-19 but if it is not essential to running the village, then we should put a suspension on that spending at this point.”
Law Director Frank Consolo said that such a motion would be too vague and could be hard to enforce. Since Ms. Todd-Miller discussed suspending all non-essential expenditures, Mr. Consolo said that council members should give a detailed list for what exactly is considered a non-essential expenditure. For example, he said that the village has expenses for fuel and paper and council needs to specify what is essential. Ms. Brockwell amended her motion to only include the three consultants.
Ms. Osborn had an annual contract for $1,500 per month as a human resources consultant, according to Assistant Treasurer Pat Dawson. Ms. Gandy was paid $1,256 in 2019 but did not bill the village for any services so far in 2020. Ms. Mengay did not have a contract but was paid $300 per month on an ongoing basis to update the police department’s Facebook page, Ms. Dawson said on Monday.
Council President Jennifer Mitchell Earley questioned how many residents are on Facebook to see the police department’s page.
“It’s just money that’s going out unnecessarily right now when that $1,800 could be used for [personal protective equipment] and other things that we’re going to need,” she said. “These are the types of things I’m talking about that when we look at priorities and prioritizing, that should be way, way low on the totem pole.”
Councilman Craig Wade said that with an expected drop in revenue due to COVID-19, council must make temporary adjustments, but consultants could return when the village is in a better financial position.
“I’m not saying no to you forever,” he said last week. “I’m saying no to you for right now.”
The motion went into effect the following day and will be subject to review at the August finance committee meeting.