Elsberry, Mo. - The City of Elsberry is saying goodbye to a familiar face.
City Collector Brooklyn Cerutti turned in her resignation, which was accepted by the Board of Aldermen at a recent July meeting, effective Sept. 1.
Cerruti said due to the increased stress of the job, it was time to leave.
“I just realized, for my own mental health, I just had to step away,” she said.
Cerruti cited safety issues as a key reason for her exit from the position.
“Some of the customers were being really nasty to me,” she said. “We were calling the (Elsberry Police Department) once or twice a week.
“It was a feeling of helplessness.”
Cerruti also said the city’s recent water issues have drawn anger from residents, but that is not her fault, and they shouldn’t be blaming her when they come to make payments.
“I understand that the water issues are a problem, but people are taking it out on the wrong person,” she said.
Cerutti’s complaints were taken to the Board of Aldermen, and they were discussed at the July meeting, where Mayor Michael Short proposed a panic button and a payment window both be installed.
However, Short said it was a case of “too little, too late.”
“No I do not feel the board did enough to address her concerns,” he said of Cerruti. “When it was brought up to install the panic button and to close off the collector’s office, some members questioned whether or not it was necessary. That doesn’t really instill much in the way of confidence, and I think probably had a small percentage to do with her resignation as well. Ultimately I believe it led to this, Brooke is not a person that enjoys confrontations.
“She is a people person, and unfortunately, some feel the need to take things out on the wrong person when it isn’t their fault - and right now that is what is happening. She did an amazing job and will be missed.”
Short said as soon as he found out about the issues, he went into action.
“Within a few days of being made aware of the issues, I implemented a few deterrents,” he said. “Signs stating this is a place to conduct business, and anyone disrupting the business will be asked to leave and instructing everyone in the office if they feel threatened in anyway to immediately dial 9-1-1 for an officer to respond. “We also had to think of the legal ramifications, because City Hall is a public office. It’s very difficult to not allow someone in City Hall to conduct business. Then we started looking into the panic button and creating the payment window, which was brought up at the July meeting. I think from start of being notified there was an issue to getting the approval was about three to four weeks tops.”
Tashua Chiodini will take over as the city’s collector after Cerruti leaves. However, plans have to be in place to ensure she doesn’t run into the same problems that caused Cerutti’s resignation.
“I think the payment window will help,” Short said. “Hopefully, the residents that have been a problem will understand that the collector is not the person making policy, or the person approving rates or the person shutting someone’s water off. Those things are done by the six members elected to the council, and they - and only they - can vote and decide what gets done.
“I mean heck, I don’t even get a vote or get to decide how the city runs.”
Cerutti said she would go back to school, finish her accounting degree and land a job as a bookkeeper.