The Jerome village president has abruptly resigned… a move he says was prompted by a contentious relationship with village trustees, and not by a federal investigation into how the village spent money it received from federal drug enforcement efforts.
In his resignation letter, Harry Stirmell says “times have changed” in Jerome, and points to budget battles with the trustees. He also says he’s been the target of derogatory anonymous letters sent to his home, causing stress to his family.
Stirmell says the decision has nothing to do with a federal inquiry into how the village spent money that it received from drug seizures. That money resulted from the work of an enforcement team which includes an officer on loan from Jerome.
Village trustees will choose a temporary replacement for Stirmell until a new village president is elected next April.
The text of Stirmell's resignation letter follows:
M E M O R A N D U M
TO: Jerome Board of Trustees
Julie DeGroot, Village Secretary
Carey Bayless, Village Treasurer
Becky Gregory, Village Water Clerk
Herman Bodewes, Village Attorney
Village of Jerome Residents
FROM: Harry E. Stirmell, Jerome Village President
DATE November 20, 2012
RE: Resignation as Jerome Village President
It is with mixed emotions that I submit my letter of resignation as Jerome Village President effective immediately.
Before taking over as Village President in 2005, I was a trustee for many years. Through all of these years, my main objective was to represent and serve the residents of Jerome and keep the Village a special place to live. In addition, we had several events and services for the residents each year while keeping a balanced budget and maintaining a reserve in both the General Revenue and Water Department funds.
In March of 2006 we had a tornado go through Jerome, causing major damage to the Village and its residents. But we made it through with the help and cooperation of many agencies and the Village residents, making Jerome even stronger than it was.
But times have changed. The last couple of years, the Village’s expenditures have been higher than its revenues. Earlier this year the Board of Trustees came up with a budget that appeared to be workable which included bringing the DEA officer back to Jerome. However, the DEA officer is still working for the Department of Justice at a cost of more than $70,000 a year. Handling all the financial issues for the Village has become a fulltime job for both the Village Treasurer, Carey Bayless and myself. For the residents that have been attending the Board meetings the last 8 or 9 months, they have seen the stress and frustrations with every meeting.
Taking everything into consideration, this has caused extreme stress to both my family and myself, including anonymous derogatory mail received by my wife and mother-in-law. It has been extremely challenging to serve as Village President, attempting to oversee the Village and to serve our residents on their behalf, without the support of our trustees.
I mean it from my heart that it has been a pleasure to represent the Jerome Village residents for all these years.
Harry E. Stirmell