During the Public Comment portion of the Marshall County Commissioners meeting on Monday, County Council President Jesse Bohannon asked the commissioners if they were going to approve the claim for Cender Dalton, the financial consultant hired by the council this year.
Bohannon was reminded by County Auditor Angie Birchmeier of a discussion they had last week when she let him know it wasn’t submitted on time. It will be considered at the June 19th meeting.
Bohannon then asked for a vote of support from the commissioners on the invoices from Cender Dalton. He said there have been some one-on-one discussions between commissioners and council members on a willingness to approve the claims that are directly related to the county’s statutory duties as they pertain to the budget and salaries and job descriptions.
Stan Klotz, commissioner president said the County Attorney sent an email with a potential settlement by modifying the memorandum of understanding with Cender Dalton and narrowing it down to items that directly pertain to the 2024 budget process. Since this is an outside contractor an engagement contract agreement because the initial agreement was too broad.
Bohannon said, “Since the claims were denied, it kind of puts me in a difficult position where if I’m going to be respectful of the time of our consultant I don’t feel it’s fair to engage his services right now while the payment is being held up.” He said he was looking for input from the commissioners on how to move forward.
Bohannon did say, “Council is considering a couple of additional steps in exercising our authority to encourage you all and I’d like to be able to avoid those steps. So, your input today is going to advise dependent on your response this morning.”
Commissioner Kevin Overmyer asked what the additional steps were and Bohannon said they will be on the table during their meeting on Thursday evening depending on Monday morning’s response.
County Attorney Jim Clevenger told Bohannon he agreed that the council shouldn’t continue to hire someone for services for which there’s not a proper engagement.
Bohannon said, “You and I have a disagreement about what the law says on this, and the question is up to the commissioners at this point about whether or not they are going to honor our claims. If they are not going to honor the claims, we are going to have to take additional steps. If they are willing to honor the claims, we can avoid additional drama and additional expense to the taxpayers.” Bohannon continued and commented, “I’m just looking for input from you guys because how we act going forward is going to be dependent upon your response at this moment.”
Commissioner Kevin Overmyer said he spoke to a council member and said if they would change the agreement to only be assisting with the 2024 budget process, he would be supportive. Commissioner Mike Burroughs was also agreeable to that compromise.
Bohannon then asked for a vote of support to pay the Cender Dalton invoices that pertain to the 2024 budget, which would resolve the issue for the council.
Commissioner Overmyer said there are four new council members and two other council members only have two years of experience so he was supportive of assistance for next year’s budget process.
Bohannon asked if the agreement needed to be revised with Center Dalton and the commissioners felt it was necessary. He said the two areas of statutory authority for the county council are the budget and wage and job descriptions. While they haven’t used Center Dalton for wage and job descriptions, he believes it’s clearly in their jurisdiction. He said he would ask Center Dalton to modify the agreement in those two areas.
Commissioner Mike Burroughs said he has a problem with hiring Center Dalton for the wage and job descriptions because the county already has an agreement with Waggoner Irwin Scheele for personnel, job descriptions, and pay.
Bohannon said, “We haven’t dealt with that yet. My claims are strictly related to the budget process at this point and I’m asking for the assurance that you will approve those claims. But what I can tell you is I’m not going to back off on our statutory authority.”
Burroughs questions the council’s decision to spend taxpayer’s money for two firms to do the same job and Bohannon said, “It’s not your discretion it’s the council’s decision about who we engage, the statute is very clear.” He continued, “We’re not trying to interfere with how you guys do business on your side of the separation of powers, and we just ask you not to interfere with us on our side of the separation of powers. We are going to follow the law and I just ask you to approve the legal claims.”
Bohannon said he was comfortable with the commissioners agreeing to pay invoices from Center Dalton for the 2024 budget process during the public meeting and on the record.