May 02, 2012 | 08:04 AMBLOOMFIELD — Since April 23, Cindy Howard has had to wield the cumbersome title of village clerk-treasurer/town clerk.
That first day, she said, consisted of a lot of introductions. Howard, 45, Kenosha, said her second day was about cleaning off her desk and "getting more productive."
What lies ahead for Howard, aside from finding a place to live that's closer to the area, is to find her way in a new job.
"This year is going to be very challenging," Howard said. "You don't have a guide here. Usually, when you take a position and you have everything set up for you, it's a lot easier. But now, we're kind of starting from scratch."
Late last year saw the incorporation of the village of Bloomfield. Recently, Martie Wells retired from her post as Bloomfield clerk. The move prompted the Village Board to create a clerk-treasurer position. The person to fill that position also is the town clerk.
Bloomfield Village President Ken Monroe and Bloomfield Town Chairman Dan Schoonover said Howard's track record set her apart from the other applicants. She beat out Terry L. Faber, Silver Lake, and Cynthia Ernest, Salem.
"(Howard had) a great application that she turned in and we had a great interview with her," Monroe said.
Schoonover said she brings with her a lot of experience, having been a municipal clerk in the past, but when he asked her what her intentions were, she told him she hopes to retire in Bloomfield.
"This is where she wants to be," Schoonover said.
Howard said she's not planning on retiring in another 20 years or so, but this is the job she wants to have until the time comes to write that letter.
But for now, she's got a lot to learn. On April 25, Howard said her next major project is to create a chart of accounts for the town and the village.
And with a mass annexation request, recall primary and the first budgets ever for the town and village post-incorporation to prepare, the timing couldn't be better for a person who said she enjoys a challenge.
"This is my comfort zone.
I just hope everybody has a little patience as we're going through all this," Howard said.
A municipally-minded family
Howard has had jobs in which she's sat at a desk working for one municipality or another since she was 16.
"I have 12 consecutive years in the clerk's office," she said. "I actually started off working at 16 for a municipality. My dad was a police chief."
He was the first police chief in Killdeer, Ill., which is near where she grew up, Lake Zurich.
"The (Killdeer) Police Department was in our house," Howard said. "Every night, we would have a police officer show up at our door. It was interesting. We had to be well-behaved."
At 16, she was reception/office support in Lake Zurich. Howard's clerk career began in Lake Barrington, Ill., where she was clerk for eight years.
But in 2008, Howard moved to Boulder Junction, to be closer to her husband, Brett. In 2009, she was elected clerk of Boulder Junction.
After living up there a few years
that's when I decided we should move closer to my family," she said.
For six months, she was deputy clerk in the city of Kenosha.
Her first day on the job in Lake Barrington, as well as within her first week in Kenosha, Howard said she had to record their municipal meetings. A typical clerk duty is to write notes during the meeting, everything from the time of roll call and adjournment to who made what motion, who seconded it and who voted yes or no.
"In Kenosha, I had to do a council meeting and they had 17 aldermen," she said. "And it was televised."
Now, Howard said she's finally received the title she wants.
"It's the job that I want — it's got that clerk-treasurer title — and it's a very desirable area to me," she said. "It's close to my church, it's close to my family."
A family which also has been municipally minded. Howard said her sister is clerk for the town of Eagle.
All of which gives her insight into the role of clerk and clerk-treasurer for Bloomfield.
"You've got to take it one day at a time and address the challenges you face," Howard said. "I'm a very prepared person (because) the role of the clerk is as a support system to the board as well as the people."
She said probably her greatest challenge will be preparing the town and village budgets for 2013.
Typically, there are at least two columns in a municipal budget — the budgeted amount for the previous year and the proposed amount for the following year. However, in the case of both the town and the village, there technically won't be any previous year totals. Although there has been a town of Bloomfield, its territory, service arrangements and tax revenue are all different now.
That's not even taking into consideration what would happen if the remaining town is annexed.
"Until we know what the following year is going to bring, we're trying to guess
. for two separate municipalities," Howard said. "We have a lot to work on between myself, the town treasurer and the accountant."
She also has to handle two elections — the recall primary and the recall — in one polling location. In fact, Howard said people interested in being poll workers should call her at (262) 279-6039.
And Monroe said there are no plans at this time to add a deputy clerk-treasurer in the village.
"We'll see how the annexation goes," he said.
Meanwhile, in the short term, it appears Howard's going to be busy.
"I'm not going to say it's going to be easy, but I have complete confidence in myself," she said.