Fairfield Township board suggests slashing trustee's budget

The Fairfield Township Advisory Board is once again recommending major cuts to Trustee Taletha Coles' budget. But they fear Coles will again neglect to file the budget with the state.

Posted: Oct 19, 2021 3:54 PM
Updated: Oct 20, 2021 10:59 AM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — The Fairfield Township Advisory Board is once again recommending major cuts to Trustee Taletha Coles' budget.

But they fear Coles will again neglect to file the budget with the state.

Board members during a budget meeting Tuesday morning recommended slashing next year's rainy day fund to $0. 

As News 18 previously reported, Coles didn't file the board's approved 2020 budget, which also included major cuts to the rainy day fund as suggested by the board.

The budget reverted to 2019 numbers, which left the rainy day fund in tact.

Coles has been criticized for spending too much of that money, which is reserved for emergencies.

Board member Perry Schnarr says she hasn't presented a plan for the nearly $150,000 she's requesting. And they're still waiting for a list of bills and receipts for expenses since she took office.

"She never has gave us a plan, she never has gave us any bills to establish what she's spending it on and we can have meetings to give her money whatever she wants for. It's got be legitimate and show us it's something good," he says.

Meanwhile, money remains unspent in many of the township's other funds.

Expenditures for the first six months of 2021, provided by board members, show Coles spent $0 out of the township's cemetery fund, which sets aside money for the maintenance of the township-managed Greenbush Cemetery.

The documents show Coles spent a fraction of the money set aside for township assistance, such as rental relief and shelter. Board members suspect the money is instead being spent improperly out of the rainy day fund.

As a result, board members also suggested cutting the cemetery fund significantly from $20,000 to $2,500.

Schnarr says he wants to reign in what he calls the trustee's questionable spending and accounting practices.

"We don't have no accountability," he says. "We have no receipts showing what she's spending it on. All she has to do is just show what she's spending it on and if it's legit, we'll go along with it, but if it's not, we're the checks and balances."

If the 2021 budget isn't filed, the township's finances will revert back to 2019 numbers, a process that could continue indefinitely as long as Coles is in office, board members say. 

Coles was absent from Tuesday's meeting. News 18 reached out to her but didn't hear back.

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