Sussex County Delaware

Opinion: F.I. Residents
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Guest Opinion ...

Clark Gives His Reasons
for Council Resignation

The following letter from Fenwick Island resident Chris Clark was submitted to Sussex County Online for publication:

"Friends and neighbors of Fenwick Island, 2002 and 2003 have been a trying time in our quiet little resort by the sea. Many years from now this era will be reflected on as a pivotal moment in the history of the Town of Fenwick Island.

The past year has not been easy; on residents and council members alike. Tax hikes, audits and police chiefs, oh my. We know that not everyone will agree on every issue; but the one issue that we know that everyone in town agrees on, is that we would like a better Fenwick today, tomorrow and in the future.

The events of the past year have afforded me and other members of the community the opportunity to meet with local county and state officials, the Attorney General and even the Governor. The purposes of these meetings were to discover how the Town of Fenwick Island can improve upon itself.

The past year has also presented our country with a recession and a war. Jobs have been lost, pensions and retirement funds have been decimated and lives have been lost fighting for freedom and democracy.

While our issues may pale in comparison, they are based on the same principles. Fiscal responsibility with tax payers' dollars is of the utmost importance, as there are many residents of our town that live on fixed incomes and every penny counts. People need to be treated with courtesy and respect when they choose to voice their opinions.

The town council has done many wonderful things for Fenwick in the past and I would like to commend them on those feats. The position of a council member is that of a volunteer and everyone knows that when they make the decision to run for council. The council member is voted into an elected position on the Town Council. It is that position that gets spoken to at council meetings and the public comments should not be taken personally.

There seems to be some confusion as to why I resigned from the town council. Council President Peg Baunchalk personally asked me to fill a vacant council seat, as treasurer. I was thrilled, as I love to work with numbers and money. I was also concerned, as it was a big responsibility to oversee the taxpayers' money and the employees that managed it. I began by talking to the employees to see what their responsibilities were and to discover how they liked their jobs and what they could change if given the opportunity.

I learned that they had two sets of records that the employees kept; manual and computer. They did not like working with the accounting software as it was not user friendly and difficult to use. The workload also caused stacks of paper work in the financial administrator's office. It was obvious that some sort of relief was needed; in the form of ongoing software training or more user friendly software and some organizational direction for the town finances.

When these issues were brought to the attention of the president of the town council, I was told that we could not afford new software, as "we still have two years of payments on the current software." I was also told that I was to leave the finance administrator alone, because "she was too busy to be bothered by my questions." I was not going to be responsible for numbers that I could not verify, so I resigned from my position, but not from my commitment to the Town of Fenwick Island.

I have to ask one small favor of each and every one of you. Ask questions. Get all sides of the story. Make informed decisions. Attend council meetings. Nobody should criticize another person or group, such as the Fenwick Island Concerned Citizens, without doing their due diligence first.

I will continue to work towards our goal of making the Town of Fenwick Island a better place for us. Will you?

I have always had an open door policy and if you have any questions for me, I can be reached at 539-4485 or rchrisclark@hotmail.com."

Respectfully,
Chris Clark

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