A call to step down
Members of 911 Commission air disagreement on operator hiring process
The Marshall County Communications Commission meeting this week included discussion on several topics and concerns; one concern dealt with the process of approving acceptance letters for 911 operators as commission employees.
Some members of the commission opposed commission Chairman and Marshalltown Mayor Joel Greer signing off on the acceptance letters, saying the letters did not get prior commission approval. The letters were officially approved by the commission Tuesday, meaning the 911 operators, including the lead operator, are now commission employees; they were previously City of Marshalltown employees.
“Quite frankly, it really upsets me that [Greer] signed these without [the commission’s] permission,” said Missy Mauseth, an emergency management services (EMS) employee from Le Grand; she has previously acted as a proxy for Le Grand Mayor Jay Wyatt on the commission, but did not have a vote at this week’s meeting as Wyatt was present. “I think something like this, that’s a huge decision, without our approval, in my opinion, [Greer] needs to step down” as chairman.
Laurel City Council member Evan Folk, that city’s representative on the commission, agreed with Mauseth.
“I know that wasn’t a motion, but I’ll concur with your opinion,” he said. “I think it was done out of turn; that’s a major decision.”
Marshall County Emergency Management Coordinator Kim Elder, also a commission voting member, said the acceptance letters should have been brought before the entire commission before Greer signed his approval.
“We had no problem that we were going to be re-hiring the operators under the commission,” Elder said. “It’s just that it had not been approved to write letters or offer [those jobs] yet in a meeting.”
Marshalltown City Administrator Jessica Kinser, who represented Marshalltown on the commission in the absence of Greer this week, said the intention was to get the 911 employees transfered from city to commission employment expediently.
“The comment I would just like to make is that they (the 911 employees) were going to then receive letters terminating, resigning from the City of Marshalltown without having new letters until this group met,” Kinser said in response to Mauseth’s call for Greer to step down as commission chairman.
Mauseth said the letters of acceptance should have been approved by the commission anyway.
“You [the city] put these out with ‘Marshall County Communications Commission’ … and you had [Greer] sign it,” she said to Kinser. “We did not approve this, we had not looked at this to OK it yet, so, in my opinion, this should have never been sent out, and we didn’t know about it till after the fact.”
On Wednesday, Greer responded to the concerns aired at this week’s meeting.
“They’re entitled to their opinions,” he said. “I thought that what the commission badly wanted was to have the least impact on the 911 employees as possible, so simultaneously having them get termination notices from the city and hiring opportunities from the new commission made the most sense to me.”
Additionally, Greer said he relies on Kinser’s knowledge of the issues surrounding the commission. He was elected in November of 2017 after serving as the second ward councilman, and was not involved in discussions about moving the employees from the city to the commission while the 911 28E agreement was being created.
“I had not been part of any discussions about how the city was phasing [the 911 employees] out and this new commission was being created; I maybe should have been more attuned to that as a city council person, but I wasn’t,” he said. “I do trust Jessica (Kinser) to have been at those things and to know what was going on, and so when she asked me to sign both sets of letters I assumed I had authority to.”
Additionally, Greer said he has no intention of stepping down as chairman.
Marshall County Board of Supervisors Chairman and commission Vice Chairman Bill Patten led the meeting in Greer’s absence Tuesday. Greer said he was at a basketball game in Ames that evening and had arranged with Patten to prepare to lead the meeting ahead of time.
“I think we have to be really careful with things like this from now on; things like this have to go through this committee, even if they’re a week late,” Patten said of the acceptance letters before they were officially approved by the commission Tuesday.
Wyatt said he felt the City of Marshalltown rushed the process of creating the commission.
“I just feel that Marshalltown has kind of pushed a lot of this stuff on us,” he said. “This is the way it’s been all along … this should have been a two-year process instead of a six-month process.”
The commission was created as part of a new 28E agreement for 911 employee salaries and benefits. It oversees a levy for those funds, and was formed in January.
The next Marshall Count Communications Commission meeting is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 27 at the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, 2369 Jessup Ave.
Contact Adam Sodders at ( 641) 753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org