Council discussion intenseFund balance won’t be correct until audit is done
RIVERSIDE—At the city council meeting on Monday, Oct. 7, the discussion about the bill from Kalona City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh became intense between council members.
Schlabaugh was contracted through June 30, 2013, with the City of Riverside to assist City Deputy Clerk Lory Young and City Administrator Rusty Rogerson with the bookwork for the fund balances in the city budget.
“Some of these items he was working on prior to the June 30 deadline that was imposed,” Rogerson said. “Many of them have to do with the fund balances, and as I’ve said several times, I don’t even feel like saying it again, the fund balances are incorrect. They’ve been incorrect.”
Rogerson said the fund balances wouldn’t be correct until the audit for the 2012-13 fiscal year is done next January. He said he asked Schlabaugh for help with the reports and apologized to the city council because it was after the June 30 deadline. Rogerson said he has told Schlabaugh the city is discontinuing his services to them.
Councilor Chris Kirkwood said the council voted 5 to 0 to end the contract with Schlabaugh on June 30. She was upset that Schlabaugh’s services were being used after the contract ended.
Councilor Ralph Schnoebelen said using Schlabaugh after the June 30 contract wasn’t any different from using a vendor, especially when Schlabaugh is assisting the city hall employees with figuring out the fund balance’s inaccuracies. He said he doesn’t see any problem with keeping Schlabaugh on as a consultant for the city on an as-needed basis.
Councilor Nate Kasdorf asked Rogerson why the city would pay Schlabaugh to work on the fund balances if they couldn’t be corrected.
“There’s no fixing it, Nate,” Rogerson said. “He is taking the actual money we have and trying to manipulate it to fit the balances so we can submit the report.”
An example Rogerson gave was the $193,000 for the city road usage report to the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT). Rogerson said the city doesn’t have that money and the figures have to be manipulated to reflect this balance listed on the report.
Councilor Bob Schneider Jr. defended Young and Rogerson’s decision to use Schlabaugh after the contract ended. He said they were only trying to correct bookkeeping mistakes that the city’s former clerk made and it was worth the city keeping Schlabaugh on as a consultant.
“I don’t see why we have two to three people working in this office to have a consultant work on this,” said councilor Kevin Kiene.
Kiene said the council voted back in February or March 2013 to end Schlabaugh’s contract with the city because Schlabaugh was no longer needed. Rogerson didn’t agree with Kiene.
“What’s interesting is you made that decision and you have not a clue what financially has to occur,” Rogerson said.
Rogerson said he thought it was clear at those city council meetings that Schlabaugh would be retained on an as-needed basis.
“That’s not my understanding,” Kiene said.
City clerk Becky LaRoche said there is no way three people in city hall could correct the issues with the fund balances.
“We cannot do it,” LaRoche said. “We don’t have the knowledge or the expertise. We have no idea until the auditors come in here and tell us what to do.”
She said the money spent on Schlabaugh’s services is well spent. She said he has helped the city hall staff to get the reports done to submit them to the agencies that are requesting the reports.
Young said she has worked for the city for 16 months now and is still trying to fix the errors in the city’s books from before her employment there. She told the council she works 50 to 60 hours a week and couldn’t do it all alone. She asked them if they wanted her to stop working on the books.
“No, I think the point here is that if you guys were in that situation, you should have asked for help a long time ago,” Kasdorf said.
“We did, and you said no,” Young said.
Kasdorf said that meeting was the first time he’d ever heard the request for more help. Young said he wasn’t listening, then.
Kasdorf said when he voted originally to have Schlabaugh come on as a consultant he thought it was for six months. He said he asked after the six months were up how much longer Schlabaugh was needed and the response he received was just until after the audit was done. Then LaRoche was hired and Kasdorf said he asked again.
Rogerson said he told the council LaRoche was never hired to do what Schlabaugh was doing for the city.
“This is a big problem here,” Kasdorf said. “We never in the history of this town had almost three full-time people plus a consultant.”
For a few more moments Kasdorf, Young, and Rogerson argued about the number of people working in city hall and why the bookwork wasn’t fixed.
Mayor Bill Poch reminded the council they had a motion to pay Schlabaugh for his services and the council should vote and move on. He didn’t want to take any more comments on the subject but Riverside resident Larry Simon asked to speak.
Simon said he agreed with some of the council members that a deadline was set to end Schlabaugh’s services with the city. However, the auditor’s office kept asking for more records from city hall and more information on fund balances. He said the city would lose more money if Schlabaugh wasn’t kept on as an as-needed basis.
“What we are doing is only for the best interest of the city,” Young said. “It’s not for nothing.”
Kirkwood argued she understood that, but a motion was made to end his services and the least they could do is come back and ask the council members to review their decision.
After a few more comments Poch asked for a vote on the bill. It passed 4-1 with Kiene being the only dissenting vote. Poch asked if the council wanted to have a work session to revisit the guidelines of when Schlabaugh should be used.
For more on the city council meeting, please see tomorrow’s edition of The Journal.