Paullina Council Retaliates

By Mari Radtke

Mayor Marlin Sjaarda opened the first meeting of his term by describing a set of rules for public input into each meeting. Any person may speak for up to 5 minutes on any matter and the council will not be responding. Public concerns may be directed to appropriate staff for follow up. Under his direction, Council approved the resolution to adopt Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised “as the guideline for parliamentary procedure.”

Approval of claims met with only a few questions from Council. Carol Honkomp asked about a claim from AgriVision that City Clerk Michelle Wilson said was for the Fire Department, which Fire Chief Ryan Harper said was budgeted. Dennis Werkmeister asked about a Wonderland Theater bill on an add-on claims list. Wilson explained that a bill from Hohbach Construction for the remodeling project was in the amount of $10,978.05. Wonderland Theater received a $13,000 grant. The city is the fiscal sponsor for that grant. Wilson reported that the city still retained $2095.51. According to Wilson the city has a check from Wonderland Theater for the remainder of the Hohbach Construction bill. 

Bank reconciliation journals were again delivered to the council. With this bunch of reconciliation reports, all entries showing on the bank statements from May 22 through June 30, 2023 are entered into the computer. Wilson and Deputy Clerk Alex Griggs have worked on bringing the city’s financial records current and have used the bank statements as their basis. Wilson said, “Alex and I are hoping the next 6 months will go much quicker.” The reconciliation reports are good balancing tools but are not a definitive financial report. The contract with Williams and Company for the annual financial examination was approved for the next year of the contract.

The City Ordinance states the time of the meetings to be 7:30pm. Discussion of changing the time from 5:30 to a later time. Sjaarda says he has some comments from Paullina residents who work out of town and say it’s hard to make the 5:30 meeting. He asked Council to consider a different time. Sjaarda says 7 or 7:30 are favored times by the public. Honkomp and Jean Unrau both said they don’t like starting at 7 or 7:30 saying, “That’s too late.”

Resoltuions to set depository limits at Iowa State Bank, $2 million; Security State Bank, $7 million and Savings Bank of Primghar, $2 million and a motion to increase employee contribution for family health plan were approved.

Discussion of the health insurance cost burden was discussed. Two employees have family insurance, Superintendent Kelly Top and City Clerk MIchelle Wilson. Single coverage is paid 100% by the City for all employees. The discussion centered around how much contribution Top and Wilson should pay toward the family portion of their health insurance. The cost share has been 15% for years. Council considered amounts from 15% to 20%. Honkomp reported the cost to an employee at 15% is $186.18 and 20% is $248.24 monthly. Honkomp went on to explain how neighboring cities benefit their employees health insurnace cost.

The mayor appointed Carol Honkomp as Mayor Pro Tem. Other committee appointments are: Public Safety: Unrau, Wekmeister

Nuisance: Honkomp, Nichole Jacobs

Employee: Unrau, Honkomp

Parks & Property: Steve Heeren, Jacobs

Finance and Economic Development: Werkmeister, Jacobs

Utilities & Streets: Wekmeister, Heeren

Airport: Unrau, Werkmeister

LIbrary: Heeren, Honkomp

Ryan Harper was reappointed as fire chief.

Sjaarda entertained a resolution to designate the Paullina newspaper as the newspaper of official publications. A motion and second were made with the vote failing 2-3, Werkmeister and Heeren for with Honkomp, Jacobs and Unaru opposed. Honkomp proposed The “Northwest Iowa Review” and seconded by Jacobs. The vote was a complete reverse with Honkomp, Jacobs and Unrau support and Heeren and Werkmeister opposed. Werkmeister said it is unfortunate to do business out of town. Jacobs asked, “what do they bring to town?” Werkmeister replied, “I can ask you the same thing about the Review.” Jacobs made the question about herself responding that she is involved in the community and shops here.” she went on to claim O’Brien County’s Bell-Times-Courier has been pretty negative. She made no comment as to the truthfulness of the articles about the Paullina City Council she calls negative. Unrau stated “We’ve put up with a lot of crap. I know it’s their job to report.” Again, there was not claim the reporting was false or erroneous. She added, “But still, we’ve put up with a lot of stuff.” Further discussion revealed the 3 women don’t like the reporting of council activities and results in the local newspaper. Honkomp expressed agreement with Jacobs and Unrau the minutes need to be published and initially claimed the newspaper added a lot of stuff. When confronted, she amended her statement to, “The minutes you do fine. There’s a little bit adding to the reports that you write in the paper when it’s a half a page. In Honkomp’s sililoquy she said she believes it’s up to the residents to decide these things. It was not clear what she meant. ”The vote 3-2 vote that appeared preplanned to send Paullina tax dollars to Sheldon stood. The mayor has 2 weeks to veto the resolution. The public can petition their mayor for a veto.

Next week: projects discussed by Superintendent Kelly Top: Engineering upgrades to water treatment plant and the southwest feeder underground project. Council authorized the purchase of some materials for the underground project and agreed to have parts and supplies with longer lead times put on order to be included in next year’s budget.