The Iowa Public Information Board
COMES NOW, Margaret E. Johnson, Executive Director for the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB), and enters this Acceptance Order.
On September 29, 2020, Julie Shook filed formal complaint 20FC:0099, alleging that the City of Tama (City) violated Iowa Code chapter 21.
At a city council meeting on September 21, 2020, the city council voted to move $50,000 in funding from the city library budget to fund two new part-time ambulance positions. The agenda item listed for this action read “Ambulance open position.” There was no indication on the agenda that the council would be reconsidering the library budget.
Legal counsel for the City responded to the complaint. He argued that the agenda item encompassed all decisions resulting from consideration of the open position for ambulance personnel, including the funding for the position. He stated that the library budget was the appropriate place to find this funding. He added that although a vote was taken by the council to remove the funding from the library budget, final budget approval would not occur until later in the budgetary process.
The City attorney also indicated that the City “will undertake to be more specific and detailed with respect to future agendas.”
Iowa Code section 21.4(1)(a) states that an agenda should be drafted “in a manner reasonably calculated to apprise the public….” This agenda item does not mention funding of the ambulance positions or review of other City departments to transfer funding for the positions. It does not meet the requirements of section 21.4(1)(a).
Iowa Code section 23.8 requires that a complaint be within the IPIB’s jurisdiction, appear legally sufficient, and could have merit before the IPIB accepts a complaint. This complaint meets those requirements.
IT IS SO ORDERED: Formal complaint 20FC:0099 is accepted as legally sufficient pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.8(1) and Iowa Administrative Rule 497-2.1(2)(a). Parties are directed to work with IPIB staff to reach an informal resolution pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.9.
Pursuant to Iowa Administrative Rule 497-2.1(3), the IPIB may “delegate acceptance or dismissal of a complaint to the executive director, subject to review by the board.” The IPIB will review this Order on November 19, 2020. Pursuant to IPIB rule 497-2.1(4), the parties will be notified in writing of its decision.
By the IPIB Executive Director
Margaret E. Johnson, J.D.
CERTIFICATE OF MAILING
This document was sent by electronic mail on the ___ day of November, 2020, to:
Dan Rathjen, city attorney for the City of Tama