The Spring Grove City Council voted on two police employee contracts on July 2. The first was for the chief of police while the second was for non-supervisory officers.

Councilmember Nancy Nelson made a motion to approve both contracts. Before it was seconded, councilmember Lorilyn Dehning made a motion to table the documents.

"There's numerous places where these contracts refer to a city administrator, and we don't have that position anymore," Dehning noted.

She also said she'd just received the contracts the day before and hadn't had time to review them fully.

Mayor Bruce Poole asked the council to approve the wage portion of the contracts so that both officers could receive back pay. Both contracts run from Jan. 1, 2013, to Dec. 31, 2014.

With one member (Robert Vogel) absent, the motion to table was defeated by a 2-2 tie when Poole and Nelson voted "no."

Nelson then made a motion to approve the wages and have the city administrator language cleaned up later in all city contracts. Dehning was the only member to vote "no," to that proposal.

On a related note, a suggestion by Officer Tyler Heiden that he be allowed to drive one of the two city squad cars home to Caledonia during off-duty hours, so that he could respond more quickly in an emergency, was voted down by a unanimous margin.

Audit report delivered

Neil Schraeder of Hacker Nelson & Co. (Decorah, Iowa) briefed the council on the city's 2012 audit.

Citing "financial highlights" from page 6 of the 59 page document, Schraeder said that net city assets increased by a total of $278,650 during the year, while the net assets of governmental activities decreased by $160,131.

General fund revenue totaled $1,013,795, (36.26% of all revenue). General fund expenditures represented a slightly larger chunk of the pie at 41.87 percent of all expenditures ($1,374,886).

Schraeder did not find any shortcomings with the way that city staff has handled public finances, but offered a few specific suggestions on accounting practices and oversight.

"The city office personnel should continue to obtain training in governmental accounting and reporting when possible," the report states. Another issue that almost all small cities face is mentioned later in the report.

"One important aspect of the internal control structure is the segregation of duties among employees to prevent one individual employee from handling a transaction from its inception to its completion," the document states.

"Management has not separated incompatible activities of personnel, thereby creating risks related to the safeguarding of cash and the accuracy of the financial statements.

"While we do recognize the city is not large enough to permit a segregation of duties for effective internal controls, we believe it is important the council be aware that this condition does exist."

Emergency planning reviewed

Mentioning recent flooding, Dehning suggested that the city's emergency management plan be updated.

"I think we should be proactive and start a committee, and I don't think it should be left to just the fire and the police. I think there should be a group of people involved."

Nelson noted that city council members need FEMA certification on emergency preparedness.

After a brief discussion on the topic, she made a motion to ask the heads of the city's police, fire and public works departments to appear at a future meeting with whatever emergency plans are currently in place so the council "can see if there's anything more that needs to be added to it." The measure passed by unanimous vote.

Other news from the council

The council once again tabled discussions on possible changes to The Corner (city-owned liquor) Store.

Nelson handed members a number of suggestions for altered scheduling, which Poole said he would like to study it more before discussing the matter further.

The council agreed by consensus to begin meetings on the 2014 budget immediately. The proposed levy must be delivered to the county by Sept. 1, Nelson told members.

That document basically sets a cap on the levy amount, which can be altered before the levy is certified. Final certification is due by Dec. 31.

After a report from county engineer Brian Pogodzinski indicated that a recent city council decision to lower the speed limit on all Spring Grove city streets to 25 mph involves a great deal of special posting and additional MnDOT requirements, members decided to refer the situation to City Attorney Joe Hammell for review.