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Hiney addresses issues

By Staff | Jun 1, 2017

Citizens of Armstrong

and Emmet County,

It is time that I, Rhett Hiney, share information. My term on the Armstrong City Council started January 1, 2014. The one thing I have done wrong is disagree with the Mayor and the Police Chief.

For three years I requested complete monthly financial statements, to do what is best for the City of Armstrong. This information is critical in making decisions. Complete financials have not been provided. In Jan. and Feb of 2016 the council was told we had no funds for infrastructure: street work, water tower or water treatment upgrades. However, we had funds to approve the purchase of a new $17,000 police car in Dec 2015.

In 2014, the city had a plan to upgrade the water treatment plant. The mayor put this and the sewer upgrade on hold. The projects still need to be done but we cannot make forward progress. Items approved by the council are placed on hold by the mayor. The mayor determines if a bill is paid or not.

At the April 2017 council meeting, the council hired a city attorney. The mayor determined he does not have to sign the resolution to hire or to make payments to the City’s new attorney.

On July 22, 2015, the Armstrong City Journal printed the audit report covering October 1, 2013 through September 20, 2014. There were several issues with our accounts balancing. “The City’s Annual Financial Report does not agree with the City’s records”. State Auditors are still working on the results for the 2015-16 audit. Records required to easily complete an audit were not available at the city office.

I ran for council to pay our bill to the Emmet County Sheriff and repair our relationship. The city budget for police protection in 2015-2016 was $90,953 but reported expenses are $181,417 (State of Iowa Auditor report). The budget for police protection for 2016-2017 is $184,857 and does not include the payments to Emmet County for past/current dispatching and police coverage.

In 2005 the council made a policy to not allow banked paid-time-off hours for employees (all have retired since). In the past several months, the police chief has received payments for over 1,000 banked hours. In a letter from the mayor, dated August 2016, The council was advised that they could not discuss or question any payments made to personnel at a council meeting

Armstrong has “lost” several people from the council and city employees. Truth is, the City Clerk planned and did retire in Feb. 2016. She trained the new city clerk for several months. The Past Mayor Eisenbacher and Councilperson Larson were harassed out of office. Ben Scheevel left a maintenance position to pursue a career in law enforcement.

Yes, the city employees and mayor are under investigation by the DCI, Emmet County Sheriff and State Auditor. No, we do not have informal meetings that violate the open meetings law.

Rhett Hiney

Armstrong City Council Member