At the Rolla Municipal Utilities board Monday, a question of whether or not RMU was acting properly in terms of contract approval was raised by Councilwoman Donna Hawley.

Hawley challenged the RMU board members over their procedure to present a contract to the city council.


At the Rolla Municipal Utilities board Monday, a question of whether or not RMU was acting properly in terms of contract approval was raised by Councilwoman Donna Hawley.
Hawley challenged the RMU board members over their procedure to present a contract to the city council.
“According to state statue and Rolla ordinance, you are supposed to be bringing every contract to city council for final approval. I have noticed you haven’t been doing this," Hawley told the board.
Board members responded that their policy was sufficient and was in line with the statute Hawley was citing.
“I think we are in compliance with the ordinances, at least we have been told that,” Dr. James Stoffer, board president, said.
The standard that RMU is using to present contracts, according to Dennis Roberts, RMU’s office manager, is if a purchase is greater than $10,000, creates indebtedness, and would require financing and a long-term contract.
This contract reviewing standard is the same one that the city uses to review its contracts, according to Roberts.
When Hawley asked when RMU has brought contracts to the council, Stoffer cited several contracts that RMU had brought before council, including a recent power supply contract.
Hawley said she also wanted to know who had told the board members that they were doing things properly. Stoffer said that would be anyone who has visited their books and reviewed their actions. He also cited discussions with the mayor.
“My interpretation of what he said was we are doing things properly,” Stoffer said.
Mayor Bill Jenks however said in a phone interview on Tuesday that he couldn't recall giving such assurances to Stoffer.
“If I have had that discussion, I don’t remember it,” Jenks said.
Although the mayor couldn’t recall the assurances, his views on the issue are in line with RMU policies, he said.
“We don’t need to be in the day-to-day contracts,” Jenks said. Instead, he said he viewed the role of the city was to provide an oversight of major lease purchases.
Jenks questioned the necessity of the $10,000 limit, since all purchase agreements are contracts. He said he did not see a need to be reviewing purchases such as water mains.
Jenks added that there was some ambiguity in the statute that could lead to confusion. He added that the city attorney has been asked to look into the policy and statue.
“Somewhere along the line a policy has been changed,” Hawley said after the meeting had gone into executive session that night.
She said that she had reviewed council minutes and found more instances where RMU had brought contracts to the council before.
“The reason the utility is exempt from PSC (public service commission) oversight is because the city council is suppose to be the oversight, and if we see nothing, then how can we have any oversight,” Hawley said.