Public information determined
RIVERSIDE—At the city council meeting on Monday, Dec. 2, a majority of the meeting’s discussion was about what information on the city’s bank statements should be viewable by the public.
City administrator Rusty Rogerson said after an occurrence at city hall last week he was directed to ask city attorney William J. Sueppel what information should be viewed on the city’s bank statements.
In a memo to Rogerson, Sueppel said the city should examine each transaction before releasing the document. Sueppel also said the bank account number, the city tax ID number, and other information like this should be kept confidential and redacted from any record a citizen requests to view.
Rogerson said this was partly due to the fact that Kirkwood had Karolyn McLaughlin, a private citizen, with her reviewing the bank statements.
Mayor Bill Poch said he was at city hall the day Kirkwood and McLaughlin were reviewing the bank statements together. He asked Rogerson what was going on, and Rogerson told Poch he didn’t know. Poch then directed Rogerson to ask Sueppel for clarification on what information should be viewable on bank statements.
Kirkwood said she had asked Rogerson, on the day she came in to view the records with McLaughlin, if there was anything on the records she shouldn’t be allowed to see, and Rogerson said no.
Rogerson agreed with Kirkwood about this. He said he wasn’t arguing whether or not the bank statements were public record but what information on the bank statements needs to be kept confidential.
“Now the issue is redacting that information,” Rogerson said. “I mean every photocopy of every check will have to be redacted.”
“What information on those checks?” Kirkwood asked.
“The routing number and the bank account,” Rogerson said. “The bank’s routing number, our bank account routing number; and with those two pieces of information you could—and I’m not accusing you or Karolyn of anything—but you could go open a line of credit somewhere. You could finance a car.”
“So, we don’t know where that information went,” Poch said. “It got outside this building. We don’t know who might have that.”
Poch said when he walked to where McLaughlin and Kirkwood were sitting, he saw them writing things down together. He again said he was concerned because he doesn’t know where the information they wrote down went after it left city hall.
“We were checking things off because they were in one order on one list and in another order on the other,” Kirkwood said.
Poch said he would have to take Kirkwood’s word but thought she was being being improper.
“Looking at the bank statements is not improper,” Kirkwood said. “If they [the staff at city hall] have to do that, we’ll have to deal with it one way or another.”
City deputy clerk Lory Young said this would take up more time and effort from the staff members to redact the information. She said the staff at city hall was already pressed enough for time.
“So you’re saying because you’re pressed for time the public shouldn’t have access to it?” Kirkwood asked Young.
Young said she didn’t say that. She said Kirkwood should make an appointment instead of demanding the information when she comes to city hall. Kirkwood said she did make an appointment that day.
Rogerson said from now on the staff at city hall will have to look through all the banking documents and cross out the information Sueppel said should stay confidential.
“Do we have a form that they have to fill out for information that they want to view?” councilor Bob Schneider Jr. asked.
Young said for regular citizens, yes, but not for council members. Schneider said he would like to see a policy set up for public information a citizen requests to see.
Councilor Nate Kasdorf argued the bank statements were public information, so people should be able to see them. Young said Kasdorf was right, but only if it didn’t obstruct the staff’s daily business they had to do at city hall.
Schneider also asked Young if any of Riverside residents’ private information was on the city’s bank statements or if any of their information was leaving city hall. Young said the deposit amounts and people’s names were on there.
“So when this gets put in place, will their names be taken off and just the amounts showing up on the deposits?” Schneider asked.
“I guess,” Young said.
After getting off of the subject of what information needs to be confidential on the city’s bank statements, Poch redirected the council back to the subject. He asked the council if the discussion about the policy for viewing of public records at city hall should be continued. Schneider said yes and made the motion for the topic to be included on the agenda for a work session.
Other items covered at the meeting were:
discussing the employee holiday bonus and what had been done in the past. This item was tabled until the Dec. 9 meeting;
tabling the state’s financial report until the Dec. 9 meeting because the information hasn’t been received yet;
and tabling the swearing in of the newly elected officials until a later date.
The next city council meeting will be held on Monday, Dec. 9, right after an open house for the city comprehensive plan from 5 to 6:30 p.m.