Havre Daily News
Havre City Council members Tuesday night questioned a decision made by a city official to spend $400 in taxpayer money for two employees who retired last month.
The City Council voted to delay payment to the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce for two $200 gift certificates, which were given to former deputy public works director Gary Schaub and former wastewater treatment superintendent Kristi Kline.
Public works director Dave Peterson, who purchased the gift certificates, declined to comment after Tuesday's City Council meeting.
Council President Rick Pierson said he and other council members want to discuss the matter with Peterson before making a decision on the bill.
“We want to find out his reasoning,” Pierson said after the meeting. “We have questions. That's why we pulled the warrant (city payment).”
Havre Mayor Bob Rice said after the meeting that Peterson thought the expense was justified because of the years of service Schaub and Kline had dedicated to the city.
Rice said Schaub and Kline have saved the city uncounted taxpayer dollars over the past few decades with their work.
“Those are probably two of the most professional people I've worked with,” Rice said.
Pierson said they had been employed by the city for a combined 55 years. Schaub left the city to join C&C Excavation, Rice said, and Kline is now working for Montana Rural Water Systems, which provides training and technical assistance to water and wastewater treatment systems.
When employees have retired in recent years, other employees have taken up a collection to purchase a farewell gift, city finance director Lowell Swenson said told the City Council's Finance Committee earlier Tuesday.
Rice, who has been mayor for four years, said he didn't remember any such collections.
During the City Council meeting, newly seated Ward 1 council member Gerry Veis questioned why the bill was being held back, and asked if a policy was in place to allow department heads to make small expenditures.
“We pulled it out because it was not a practice we had seen in the past,” Pierson replied.
After the meeting, council member Pam Hillery said the city should shy away from such expenditures.
“It's a precedent we probably shouldn't establish as a government agency,” she said.