Elk Mound village board discusses 2016 audit, unfinished business

By Cara L. Dempski

ELK MOUND — The Elk Mound village board held a special meeting to discuss the results of the 2016 audit and complete business not addressed at its previous meeting.

The board held a February 22 meeting to go over the results of the village’s 2016 audit. President Tom Gilbert had a preliminary report from the auditor, and presented the information he gathered with the board.

 “I was shocked at how little I understood of what the auditors are doing, and how even some of our budget stuff works,” Gilbert stated.

A representative of Baker Tilly, who performed the audit, met with Gilbert to explain preliminary findings in the village’s 2016 funds. The board agreed to a special meeting to discuss the findings and get a clearer idea of what suggestions the auditor has for improving the village’s financial stability and practices.

The discussion centered on the suggestions, many of which have been made in years past. Among the recommendations made were increased board oversight over monthly budget and expenditures and oversight over payroll of village employees.

Baker Tilly’s report mentioned providing a quarterly budget report, which village clerk Pat Hahn said was something she prepared on a monthly basis in the past. She clarified that she stopped taking the reports to meetings because no one ever read them, and they were rarely even removed from where she placed them in the center of the table.

Another recommendation was to increase the board’s oversight of the employee payroll process. The suggestion was to create either a separate oversight committee, but Gilbert questioned the necessity a new committee and seemed in favor of oversight being provided by the employee relations committee.

One surprise for the board was learning that there is nearly a year’s worth of the budget in surplus in the  village’s accounts.

“We were $118,000 under budget just last year,” Gilbert said.

There was some question as to the amount of overtime used by Hahn in 2016. Her contract indicates she is able to use up to three hours of overtime weekly, but the audit report indicated she used those three overtime hours all 52 weeks last year.

Hahn stated she worked on four elections last year, and does a great deal of work at home, and that is how she used all her allotted hours. A suggestion was made during the discussion that, in the future, village employees should clear their overtime usage with the employee relations committee before using them.

At the end of the discussion, the board learned the full audit presentation will not be made to the board until April because Baker Tilly did not have all the necessary employee retirement information to complete its report at this time. Hahn said she had provided the information to the firm.

Prior to the discussion of the audit, the full board addressed three items of unfinished business from its February 15 meeting. At the top of the list was further discussion regarding the attorneys retained for various village services.

In August 2016, the village board unanimously approved using Bakke Norman for its municipal law needs. The attorneys at Schofield, Parent, Mayer and Huff informed Gilbert that they were not aware they were no longer providing municipal services; the firm was retained to provide court services for the police department.

The president and trustees agreed that, since the contract with Schofield, et al had not officially been terminated before the one with Bakke Norman was signed, the board could seek advice from either firm. There was one caveat, though: all contact with the attorneys needed to go through department heads or the village president for approval.

The board then discussed the appropriate statutory uses for closed sessions, and clarified that any employee facing a closed session for performance reasons must be notified of his or her right to request an open session. The president and trustees then made an addendum to the current village agenda, adding sections for Colfax Rescue, the Fire Board, Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling and the Community Center under the heading “special committees.”

Gilbert reminded all board members that the March 1 regular meeting has been postponed to March 8, and the meeting was adjourned.