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Local News

June 14, 2010

City releases information following public demand

Centerville Mayor Marsha Mitchell released information Friday in an attempt to clarify the city clerk position agreement the City Council passed June 7 and the Municipal Waterworks Board of Trustees passed Tuesday during open session. Despite the release, one citizen was still not convinced.

CENTERVILLE — Centerville City Hall Friday released a fax and two e-mails in reaction to public outrage over the recently approved city clerk position agreement.

The uproar occurred after the Daily Iowegian published two stories Friday detailing how the City Council and Municipal Waterworks Board of Trustees approved during open session an agreement relating to the city clerk but later refused to release the contents of the agreement.

Kathy Cooprider, of Centerville, faxed to Mayor Marsha Mitchell the following request Friday morning:

"Please be advised that I am respectfully requesting a copy of the agreement that was voted on during public meeting of City Council on Monday, June 7, 2010, with vote of 5-0, and subsequently voted on during special meeting of Water Board in Tuesday, June 8, 2010, with a vote of 3-0.

"Please fax to me ASAP the document requested."

Cooprider faxed a carbon copy of the request to the Daily Iowegian and Centerville Municipal Water Board Chairman, Greg Gordon.

At 11:21 a.m. Mitchell faxed a two-page response to Cooprider that said "there is no official agreement. I assured the Iowegian, and I will assure you, that if and when we do actually have a formal document written, approved and signed, it will immediately be shared with the public."

Mitchell's fax to Cooprider also contains the following that was e-mailed to the Daily Iowegian at 2:09 p.m. Friday by the city.

"Following months of exploration and debate in sub-committee discussions, this week the Board of Centerville Municipal Waterworks and the Centerville City Council have agreed in concept to share resources in an effort to contain future operating expenses. This came from searching for ways of running the city government as efficiently as possible.

"The retirement and/or resignations of Waterworks and City employees and the 2006 decision to close the outdated Waterworks Treatment Plant at Lelah Bradley Park greatly influenced and allowed these steps. The intent of this conceptual understanding include:

1. Sharing facilities to reduce overhead expense,

2. Sharing equipment to avoid duplication of expensive equipment,

3. Establishing a format for sharing staff when needed to accomplish complex projects or emergency repairs, and

4. Sharing more administrative processes and eliminating duplication of services.

"The Waterworks Board and City Council have agreed in concept to take steps toward accomplishing these goals over the next few months. The details of accomplishing stated goals are yet to be determined.

"Currently the City Council sponsors and approves bonds and state grants issued to Centerville Waterworks and the council submits a combined financial report to the State annually. In addition, Centerville Waterworks is covered under the City of Centerville’s health and liability insurance policies."

Cooprider faxed a critique of Mitchell's response to the Daily Iowegian. In it she questioned the explanation she received.

"What Mayor Mitchell seems to be saying is that we do not want our manipulations to be critiqued and maybe or maybe not will you receive the information you requested."

The Iowegian at 4:19 p.m. Friday received an e-mail from the city containing the minutes from the council's June 7 meeting, which is very unusual. The relevant minutes read, "Moved by McAfee, seconded by Carter to approve moving forward with plans to share resources with the water company and how the City Clerk position will accommodate both parties. Ayes: All. Motion carried."

What is still unclear, as Cooprider alludes to, is what was in the agreement concerning the city clerk position two public bodies approved during open session. The city's response doesn't indicate if the actual agreement the council and water board approved has been made public.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about building code compliance. One Centerville resident at Monday's City Council meeting proposed the city create two new positions in the police department to only deal with minimum housing and nuisance abatement issues. The city currently has George Johnson as the only employee assigned to enforce building code compliance issues. Does Centerville need more than just Johnson to enforce code compliance issues? So, the question of the week is, "Should Centerville hire additional help to assist George Johnson enforce building code compliance issues?"

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