Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 18, 2014

Consulting bill draws questions from city council

By Xiomara Levsen | Feb 04, 2014
Pictured above from left are Riverside city councilors Nate Kasdorf, Bob Schneider Jr, and Tom Sexton. Kasdorf is looking at the expenditure list, which included a bill from Kalona City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh for $2,100 for consulting services from November 2013 to February 2014.

RIVERSIDE—Discussion about a bill from Kalona city administrator Ryan Schlabaugh for $2,100, who assisted with preparing Riverside’s budget, water and sewer balances, and fund balances, was brought up at the city council meeting Monday night.
“I just don’t understand why we weren’t informed we were hiring him before today,” councilor Nate Kasdorf said.
Kasdorf also said he didn’t mind the fact that city clerk Lory Young needed help, but he said the council should have been informed before Schlabaugh was hired.
“All of a sudden we just get a bill and now you’re saying he’s been here for how long, off and on, off and on,” Kasdorf said. “We gave you a resolution Jan. 6 to hire a consultant, and I assumed that if you ever did we would know about it.”
Kasdorf said he understood $750 of Schlabaugh’s total bill of $2,100 was from November 2013 to Jan. 6. However, the remainder he calculated to equal to four hours of work a day from Schlabaugh from Jan 6 to Feb. 3, Kasdorf said. He found it hard to believe Schlabaugh was spending this much time assisting Riverside and wanted to know when Schlabaugh was there.
“Most of the work he does at home in the evening,” Rogerson said. “Although, we have been here Saturdays and Sundays.”
Kasdorf asked Rogerson what part Schlabaugh had been working on.
“We have some serious issues with the water account — water and sewer,” Rogerson said.
Councilor Bob Schneider Jr. asked for some clarification regarding the fund balances. He wanted to know if the next audit, which is a full financial audit would help fix the issues with the fund balances.    
City clerk Lory Young said the next audit would help some. She explained adjustments couldn’t be made to the fund balances until after the auditor is completely done reviewing everything. Then the auditor will tell Young and Rogerson what adjustments can be made to the city’s fund balances.
The most recent issues they have come across were prior to Rogerson’s and her employment, Young said.
Kasdorf asked what the issues were with the water and sewer balances and how long it would take to fix the issue.
“The water and sewer are from five years ago forward,” Rogerson said, “and that’s part of why.”
“So we didn’t get this fixed last year when Ryan was here?” Kasdorf asked. “We gave him how much money?”
“We just found the water and sewer stuff within the last two weeks,” Rogerson said.
No one knows what figures are wrong with the fund balances and what figures are OK, Young said.
“It’s a process,” she said. “It didn’t get screwed up overnight and it’s not going to get fixed overnight.”
“Water and sewer—what specifically are we talking about that we have problems with going back five years?” Kasdorf asked.
Young said she couldn’t give him an exact answer because she was still doing research on that part of the fund balances.
“What we bill and what we collect are not adding up,” Young said. “That’s the basics of it.”
Rogerson and Young came across the water-sewer fund balance being off because a consultant has been hired by the city to review what the city is charging for its water and sewer services, Rogerson said.
Another part of the problem is, the figures from last year’s budget were never loaded into the computer system and the figures Young and Rogerson were working off were from 2010-2011 fiscal year, Young said.
“It was approved and published, but it has to be loaded into the encode system so it can be operated,” Rogerson said. “That’s the only accounting system we have.”
Councilor Chris Kirkwood asked why this was never brought up in the special investigative audit that was just done. Rogerson said the special investigative examination was only looking at the payroll and benefits.
“What you’re going to get Feb. 17 is a full financial audit,” he said, “and hopefully we can get this cleared up. But when you have billings for water bills that are within a couple thousand dollars annually of each other and currently right now we’re nowhere close to those dollars—we’re trying to figure that out.”
The state auditor would have found the issues but only asked for selected documents, Rogerson said. The full financial audit will include everything.
“Would it help if we had an idea of when we were going to be using a consultant?” Schneider asked.
Kasdorf said yes. He would like that information with the bill they receive with the expenditures.
Rogerson hired a consultant to review vacation approvals beginning next week, he said. Young said Schlabaugh would still be working on the budget, the water-sewer preparation for Michael Hart (the consultant hired by the city to review the water and sewer fees), and whatever may come up from the next audit as needed.
“I guess my only concern is that we paid him and this was in the audit, but we paid a bill that wasn’t going to cost us any interest or any things like that,” Schneider said. “So I want to make sure that it’s clear in the minutes that the council discusses this bill as prepaid, that we are aware the bill was prepaid, so we don’t get wrote up next time there’s an audit.”
Schneider also asked for the account numbers attached to the bills so the council would know where the payment was coming from.
Schnoebelen, who acted as pro-tem mayor in Bill Poch’s absence, called for a vote on Schlabaugh’s bills. The bills were approved with Kasdorf and Schneider approving them. Councilor Tom Sexton and Kirkwood voted no.
Other items the city council did included:
•    tabling a resolution for use of city funds for public purpose, which allows the city to show appreciation or send flowers to a funeral for someone who worked for the city, until the city attorney reviews the resolution for approval;
•    and tabled the concession stand at Hall Park until plans could be drawn up and bids could be received.
The next city council meeting will be held on Monday, Feb. 17, at 6:30 p.m.

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