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Thursday, March 10, 2011 06:23 am

Paper and perks, top issues for city clerk candidates

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Cecilia Tumulty
Democrat Frank Kunz, 3rd Ward alderman and candidate for mayor of Springfield, says “everything just moves quicker” at the city clerk’s office since Cecilia Tumulty took the helm in 2003. Kunz began his career as alderman in 1999, the same year as Tumulty. He says she has made information a lot easier to come by and maintains more detailed minutes than in years past.

As part of a three-tiered plan Tumulty brought with her to the city clerk’s office, she converted city council minutes, agenda and audio to digital files, lessening the burden of paper within the office. Now, there are city council records in a digital format available all the way back to 1994.

Tumulty is quick to point to a tall stack of documents piled high on any given day at her office at the Municipal Building as a true sign that changes still need to be made to bring the office of the city clerk into the 21st century, which is where the third phase of her plan comes in.

 Documents are what keeps the office of city clerk moving, and the process is still very paper-driven. Ordinances and complaints are filed, sent to her for review and eventually make the trip to the mayor’s office. As part of the third phase of her plan, Tumulty wants to convert original city ordinances, complaints and most documents sent to the city clerk’s office into an online format that can be easily accessible through an electronic software program from any citywide office. Tumulty is authorized to handle municipal court clerical work, and with the new system in place, could keep attorneys, clients, municipal court officials and the police department up to speed with a click of a button, instead of having to duplicate paper copies and travel between city offices.

She says she has the support of the Springfield Police Department, the city treasurer, and several aldermen to put forth the $150,000 “workflow” program that she believes will save the city time and money in the long run, by eliminating an excess of paper documents and increasing communication time with city departments such as the mayor’s office.

Tumulty plans to pay for the software through existing revenue and by redirecting her city-issued vehicle allowance of $3,300 to pay into the project. Tumulty says she, along with other city employees, has received a vehicle allowance each year since 2003, when she took office as city clerk. Opponent Andy Griswold sees the allowance as waste.

Tumulty sees the project as an investment in communication across city departments.

“It is my hope that the entire city of Springfield and all departments will make use of this technology,” she says. “We have really accomplished the majority of the goals set out in that initial plan.” Now the next step is making communication easier and files more accessible.

 Mary Haynes, city clerk of Peoria since 1985, and a friend of Tumulty, says she has always found Springfield’s city clerk’s office to be well-managed. That’s due in part to Tumulty’s attention to detail as well as technological improvements.

“Cecilia’s standards are high and she has been a valued friend through the years,” Haynes says. “She runs a good operation. If you have a good thing going, why change it?”

 Griswold hopes to answer that question, as he makes his first run for political office April 5.

A self-described traditional conservative, Griswold will host a fundraiser for Republican candidates at 5 p.m. Friday, March 12 in Erin’s Pavilion at Southwind Park. Griswold says he has volunteered with various Republican campaigns but the office of city clerk caught his attention last year as an opportunity to get his foot in the door of city politics.

The 37-year-old sales consultant says he is frustrated with “perks” within the city clerk’s office like pay raises and a vehicle allowance of $3,300, things that he says are unnecessary.

Tumulty acknowledges she has taken a pay raise of 3 percent each year in office, as have other city officers like the treasurer and the mayor.

Contact Holly Dillemuth at hdillemuth@illinoistimes.com.
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