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Sellersburg clerk-treasurer loses appeal for second deputy

November 29, 2017

The Sellersburg clerk-treasurer who sought a mandate requiring the town board to give her funds for a second deputy clerk has lost her appeal of the denial of her request. The Indiana Court of Appeals determined state statute gives the legislative body oversight over the number of deputy clerks.

In October 2015, the Town Board of Sellersburg unanimously approved an ordinance that funded two deputy clerks in Michelle Miller’s office as town clerk-treasurer. The board then passed a second ordinance two months later, eliminating the funding for one of those deputy clerks.

Miller responded by filing a petition for mandate, asking the Clark Circuit Court to reinstate the budget approved by the original ordinance. She then moved for summary judgment on the grounds that she was entitled to judgment as a matter of law because under Indiana Code section 36-5-6-7, the clerk-treasurer, not Town Board, “shall appoint the number of deputies and employees needed for the effective operation of the office … .”

The town filed a cross-motion for summary judgment, arguing the statute goes on to say the clerk-treasurer’s appointments are subject to “the approval of the town legislative body.” The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the board, prompting the instant appeal in Michelle Miller, Town of Sellersburg Clerk-Treasurer v. Town Board of Sellersburg, Indiana, 10A01-1612-MI-2908.

On appeal, Miller argued the trial court erred in its interpretation of I.C. 36-5-6-7, but the Indiana Court of Appeals disagreed. In a Wednesday opinion, Judge Rudolph Pyle wrote the plain language of the statute, which tracks the language addressed by the town, “clearly states that the clerk-treasurer’s appointment of deputies and employees needed for the operation of that office required the approval of the town legislative body.”

“Here, the Town Board’s unanimous approval of (the second ordinance), which eliminated funding for one of Miller’s deputy clerks, indicates that the Town Board did not approve of Miller’s appointment of two deputy clerks,” Pyle wrote in the five-page unanimous opinion. “Accordingly, the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the Town Board.”

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