At the Dec. 7 meeting, the North Sioux City City Council voted to issue bonuses to all city employees and city council members in the amount of $1,425. This motion passed 8-0. However, after the fact, North Sioux City City Administrator Eric Christensen conferred with City Attorney Darrell Jesse and learned that a bonus cannot be issued to council members through a motion. According to South Dakota Codified Law 9-14-28 Salaries and compensation of municipal officers, amounts of salaries and compensation of all municipals officers must be set through ordinance or resolution. In accordance with law, the payments were not made to city council members.
Resolution 2021-01 Approving a One-time Payment to Members of the City Council was brought before the council. Mayor Rodd Slater was not in favor of the resolution and urged council members to vote against it.
“On a personal note, in principal, I’m opposed to bonuses for elected officials,” Slater said. “I think that’s whether it’s local, community, state, federal, I don’t think it fits the roll of an elected official.”
Instead he asked the council to consider changing the city’s ordinance for council’s pay. Current ordinance states that each council member receive the sum of $5,500 per annum and $25 for each special and adjourned meeting attended. Each council member was given the chance to speak their opinion and whether they support the resolution.
Council member Kodi Benson said that he didn’t join the council to get paid, but this year was different and supports the resolution.
“I joined the council to make sure that our city is growing and going in the right direction as far as keeping our budgets in line, stuff like that,” Benson said. “But, I will also say, it has been a crazy, crazy year. We’ve put in a ton of extra hours.”
Lonnie Green declined to comment.
“I agree 100 percent [with Benson], I didn’t sign up for the pay,” Doug Berg said. “But what we experienced last year, including myself, I think it’s justified and I vote in favor. I know that it was voted 8-0 last time and all we had to do was create a resolution. So I don’t understand why we’re having the conversation again.”
Slater explained that he was trying to do this in accordance with South Dakota law, especially since any bonuses for elected officials is a sensitive topic.
“I think that we’re having this discussion again protects all of you, in case we did something that was not lawful,” Slater continued. “I don’t think any one of us want to be in a situation that we receive any funds that was not done in the proper, legal way.”
“I agree with Kodi and I agree with Doug,” Lesa Cropley said. “An 8-0 vote and we were then asked to make a resolution for it and I support it.”
Joan Christiansen said this was one of the times that she voted against the way she felt.
See full story in this week’s Dakota Dunes / North Sioux City Times.