Riverside expenses questioned during meeting
RIVERSIDE—It didn’t take long for things to get heated at the city council meeting on Monday, Sept. 16.
Right away Councilor Chris Kirkwood took issue with the agenda. She asked that the expenditures be separated from the consent agenda because she had several questions about the some of the expenditures. She also asked for the expenditures to be moved to the end of the agenda.
Mayor Bill Poch told Kirkwood he wished she would have brought this up earlier and he was going to leave them where they were on the agenda.
A motion was made to approve the agenda, which passed 4-1. Kirkwood was the only dissenting vote.
After the agenda was approved Poch asked if anyone had questions about the consent agenda or the expenditures list, and Kirkwood said she did. She wanted to know why there was a bill from Grecian Welding for the railings on the Riverside Trail because the work wasn’t completed yet.
City administrator Rusty Rogerson said the bill was for the material for the rails, which are completed. He also said the bill was $3,000 lower than the original bid and the only thing left to do was to have volunteers install the railings on the trail.
Kirkwood said again a bill shouldn’t be paid until the work was done and asked for clarification about what the bill was for. Councilor Ralph Schnoebelen said Rogerson had just explained to Kirkwood why that bill was on the list and the amount was less than what the original bid was, so the city should go ahead and pay it.
Another bill Kirkwood took issue with were the cell phone reimbursements for Rogerson and city deputy clerk Lory Young for $500 each.
Rogerson said the cell phone stipends for Young and him are the same as last year. He also said that the city terminates him before the next 10 months are up, he would refund the city’s money.
Councilor Kevin Kiene said he didn’t feel comfortable prepaying bills. Rogerson said the city prepays the library fees, the cemetery, and the law enforcement fees.
Kirkwood asked Rogerson why there was a bill from Riverside Area Community Club (RACC) for the amount of $6,306.64 that was going toward paying for law enforcement during this past year’s Trek Fest. She said she thought the city paid the sheriff separately. Rogerson told her the city didn’t pay for the law enforcement at Trek Fest, as Kirkwood had thought. The RACC club paid for it out of the hotel/motel tax and this was just a reimbursement they were asking for.
Then Kirkwood asked why there was a bill for Ryan Schlabaugh’s services after June 30 for $1,590, which is when she thought his contract ended with the city.
“I think in some of our discussions we allowed Rusty and Lory to use Ryan for consulting purposes,” said council Bob Schneider Jr.
Councilor Nate Kasdorf said the council never approved for Schlabaugh to be used as a consultant past June 30. He said he remembered in January 2013 the council agreed for Schlabaugh to stay on as a consultant for another two months and that was extended into June.
“If we have to go back to January and look at the minutes, we can do that,” Kasdorf said.
“But I know exactly what was said.”
Rogerson said he heard two council members had met with Schlabaugh and this is what the bill was probably for. He said he would get confirmation and report back to the council at the next meeting. Kirkwood asked for this to be put on the next agenda.
Poch asked for any other comments, and Kirkwood said she had a concern about the Visa bill. She said she wanted to see the receipts for what was put on the Visa bill by city staff.
Young explained what the items were on the visa bill. She said the classes Ron Hembry and Kevin Engel took were put on the visa and a publication bill from The Washington Evening Journal. She told Kasdorf and Kirkwood they could come down and look at the items on the bill at any time or to just ask her about the bill.
Kirkwood took issue with what Young said.
“Just for the record, we were told we couldn’t come down to look at the expenditure list until 3 p.m. today,” Kirkwood said. “That gives us three hours when we’re trying to feed ourselves and get ready for the meeting. In my mind that is unreasonable and I would like that to be put on the next agenda as well.”
She said it was unreasonable for Young and Rogerson to expect the council members to have enough information to pay the bills with such a short amount of time to look them over.
“I’d like to comment to that,” Rogerson said. “The law requires me to be present when you review the records. You have no special privileges for a single council person, and so you’re going to do it when I have time.”
Kirkwood asked why Rogerson had to be there when she looked at the bills. She said before Rogerson came to his position with the city, previous city administrators allowed her to look at the bills unsupervised over the weekends.
Rogerson said it was against the law. He also said if citizens weren’t allowed to come into city hall on the weekends to look at bills, then Kirkwood shouldn’t be allowed to. For a couple more minutes Kirkwood and Rogerson argued about the law. Finally, Rogerson stood up and went to get Iowa Codes book to show Kirkwood what the law said.
Poch asked if any other councilors had something to say, and Schneider said he didn’t know where to start.
“I don’t know where to start,” Schneider said. “We’ve got total chaos going on here. You know, Chris, a lot of these things could have been taken care of with Rusty for the three hours you were down here.”
Schneider said it was absurd Kirkwood didn’t have the time to look over the invoices before the meeting. He told her she was nitpicking with Young and Rogerson.
Poch said the council does need more time to review the bills and an agreement should be reached, which is why this was on the next agenda.
A motion was made to approve the consent agenda with all the bills remaining on the expenditure list. It failed 3 – 2 with Kirkwood, Kiene, and Kasdorf voting no.
A second motion was made to approve the expenditures list except for the cell phone stipends for Rogerson and Young for $500 each, and Schlabaugh’s bill. The motion passed 3 -2. Schneider and Schnoebelen voted no.
See tomorrow’s edition of The Journal for more on the city council meeting.