Complaint filed against Tama council

Louise and Lucile Hink Tama Public Library. -News-Herald file photo

A complaint was filed with the Iowa Public Information Board after a decision was made Sept. 21 by the Tama City Council to cut $50,000 from the library budget.

The measure passed on a 4-1 vote. Aaron Haughey, Larry Thomas, Matt Beatty and Emily Babinat each voted in favor of the measure. Anne Michael was the lone vote not in favor of the budget change. Individuals listed as involved in the complaint included Mayor Doug Ray, council members Andrew Haughey, Thomas, Beatty and Babinat, City Clerk Alyssa Hoskey and City Attorney Dan Rathjen. Michael was listed in the complaint as another person having information.

The topic was discussed under the agenda item “Ambulance Open Position”. The need stemmed from Tama EMS struggling to find volunteers to cover weekend shifts. The decision was made to hire two part time employees to fill the weekend gaps.

Julie Shook, head librarian, filed the complaint with the IPIB Tuesday, Sept. 29 at the recommendation of Maryann Mori, from the State Library of Iowa.

In the complaint Shook said she spoke with Mori as well as the Librarian at the State of Iowa’s Law Library who both encouraged her to file a complaint.

The description of the complaint said the Tama council voted to move $50,000 from the city library’s budget to the city’s ambulance budget without having it listed on the agenda.

Shook declined to comment to the News Chronicle. Library board president John Legg also declined to comment.

Shook said in the complaint she would like the IPIB to know she felt that the city did not follow the state laws of Iowa listed in the Iowa Code under Chapters 21 and 22. Chapter 21 pertains to official meetings open to the public and Chapter 22 examination of public records.

She also said she would like the vote ruled illegal and place it on the agenda at a future council meeting so that the library patrons will be able to attend the meeting.

Shook said the library would not be able to operate as $50,000 is more than 1/3 of their entire budget.

The library employees one full time staff member, Shook and five or six part time staff.

City Clerk, Alyssa Hoskey, responded to the complaint through the IPIB October 2. Hoskey said to her knowledge the city has never received a previous complaint that it failed to comply with Chapter 21 notice requirements.

Hoskey said the city believed that the agenda item “Ambulance Open Position” was reasonably calculated to apprise the public with respect to that matter.

While the council recommended moving forward with the library budget cut Sept. 21, a budget amendment still must occur for the funds to be moved.

Public hearings likely will be held at future council meetings in November. Citizens are allowed to speak for or against at the time of the public hearing.

As for the complaint, the IPIB meets every third Thursday of the month. They will meet Thursday, Nov. 19. At that time they will decide whether to accept or dismiss the complaint. If the board accepts the complaint they will then try to work towards an informal solution with the parties involved.