Council addresses open meetings act
RIVERSIDE—Employee job titles and the viewing of open records were the topics of conversation at the city council meeting on Monday, Jan. 20.
City deputy clerk Lory Young’s annual evaluation pay raise was brought up for a second time as an agenda item. The council tabled the topic at the city council meeting on Monday, Jan. 6.
Councilor Chris Kirkwood began the discussion, questioning annual employee evaluations and whether or not employees should expect raises just because they’ve had an evaluation done.
“You know if we start doing evaluations every six months does that mean they’ll [employees] will want to have a raise?” Kirkwood asked. “That also is not in the handbook and hasn’t been addressed.”
Kirkwood said she thought evaluations were already handled by the city council last year.
Councilor Bob Schneider Jr. said a lot of what is being seen is discussion that should be handled in a closed session. Employee evaluations should be based on how the employee has done the job, not on how much it will cost the city.
“We should be discussing the evaluation before we talk about the money issue, and here we have turned this around,” Schneider said. “The council has delayed the evaluation of two employees in the past, so the thing about how we’ve handled that in July is not true.”
City attorney William J. Sueppel told the council at the Jan. 6 meeting that decisions made by previous council couldn’t bind the current council’s decisions, Rogerson said. The employee handbook says evaluations should be done after the six-month probationary period Lory Young’s years of experience and college degree should also be considered, Rogerson said.
Kirkwood argued employees already received a raise when they were given a cost-of-living increase. Rogerson didn’t agree with Kirkwood. He said the cost-of-living increase is separate from a performance evaluation and annual evaluation pay raise.
Young reminded Kirkwood that Rogerson was her supervisor and had done her evaluation before and brought it to the council’s attention previously for a wage increase. However, it was tabled, so it was put on the agenda again.
Poch asked if anyone had any more questions; otherwise, the council should vote on the agenda.
“I have one more question,” Councilor Tom Sexton said. “By
the handbook, Rusty, are the evaluations done yearly from date of hire or is there a set time of year-to-year when everybody’s is done?”
Rogerson said the employee evaluations should be done annually but have been done in July altogether. Oct. 1, 2013, was Young’s year anniversary with the city and it needed to be addressed, Rogerson said.
No motion was made for Young to receive an annual evaluation pay raise and the item was tabled.
Young’s job title also came up. A resolution was on the agenda to change her title from city deputy clerk to city clerk and finance director at the hourly rate of $23.
Poch said he would like to see the council go ahead and approve the resolution. He said Young has already been doing the work of a city clerk and finance director for many months.
Councilor Ralph Schnoebelen said he would like the employee committee to review the job description of city clerk as well as the other job descriptions the handbook has. Poch agreed but asked if there were any other questions about the motion.
“Yeah, how do we appoint somebody to city clerk when we already have one?” Councilor Nate Kasdorf asked.
“We’re going to change that, and the fact of that is, Nate, honestly, Lory had already been doing the city clerk’s job,” Poch said. “And from the very get-go it was stated that Rusty was the city administrator and put Lory into the position of city clerk.”
Kasdorf argued the city already had a city clerk and asked if this would null and void Rogerson’s employee contract. Poch said this was a question for the city attorney to review.
The resolution passed with Kirkwood and Kasdorf voting no.
Afterward, a brief discussion about Rogerson’s evaluation was held. Rogerson opted not to have a closed session and thanked the council for their evaluation. A motion was made to pass a resolution changing Rogerson’s job title to city administrator/economic director. The motion passed with Kirkwood and Kasdorf voting no.
Another resolution on the agenda was the open records policy. The resolution said viewing open records would be allowed for the first 15 minutes of time without charge with supervision. If viewing of the public records exceeds 15 minutes, then a supervision fee of $12 an hour could be charged to the person viewing the file, and copies for the public records would be 25 cents per page.
Mayor Bill Poch asked city administrator Rusty Rogerson if the city attorney had a chance to view the resolution yet. Rogerson said no but this was from the Iowa League of Cities. Rogerson said he would submit the open records resolution to the city attorney for review.
“I do have a question,” Councilor Chris Kirkwood said. “If you have someone ask you for documents but you don’t have to scan it—you attach it to an email and send it—do you charge for that?”
He hasn’t charged for that, but it still took staff time to send documents by e-mail, Rogerson said.
Kirkwood said she still had problems with someone not being charged for copies if they request it by e-mail and the time limit of 15 minutes. She suggested having the time changed from 15 minutes to one hour.
Poch asked if it was fair to give residents an hour but for media or anyone outside of the city they begin to charge after 15 minutes. He then said this would be another question the city attorney could give them clarity on.
Councilor Nate Kasdorf said residents should be allowed to look at records without being charged for viewing public records.
A motion was made to extend the time for viewing public records from 15 minutes to one hour contingent on the review and approval from the city attorney. The motion passed unanimously.
Other items covered at the city council meeting included:
approving a probationary pay increase for the office assistant 50 cents an hour to $12.50;
approving changing Becky LaRoche’s job title change from office assistant to billing clerk. Kirkwood was the only dissenting vote;
approving a contract with the state auditor’s office to do a full financial audit for the 2012-13 fiscal year ending June 30,2013, ranging from $11,300 to $12,300;
and tabled the requests for hotel/motel tax grants until they are discussed at a budget work session.
The next meeting will be a budget work session on Monday, Jan. 27, at 6:30 p.m. at city hall.