Commissioners Demand Historical Society Accountability

Keeping Steele City's Events Alive, Jefferson County Historical Society Keeps Steele City Flea Market and Tractor Show, Fairbury News Now Nebraska

(Shaun Friedrichsen, Publisher)

Until the Jefferson County Historical Society begins complying with the requests of the Jefferson County Commissioners, they will not receive funds from the county.

Commissioner Gale Pohlmann attended a special meeting of the society Tuesday evening and gave a strong message from the commissioners: comply or suffer the consequences.

“I asked the commissioners today, when I came tonight, I was supposed to give you this message,” said Pohlmann. “Naturally, we are looking for more accountability. After every meeting, monthly meeting, we want a copy of the minutes-.”

“Who?” asked Denise Andersen, curator for the historical society.

Pohlmann responded that the county commissioners are the ones asking for the minutes. Andersen claimed that the commissioners are already receiving the minutes.

“We also want the treasurer’s report with all expenses itemized, all records itemized,” Pohlmann said. “And we also want a copy of the timesheets for the employees.”

Andersen responded that she does not have timesheets for the hours she works, which is due to the fact that she receives salary rather than hourly pay. She stated that all of the other items are already being sent to the commissioners. Pohlmann asked when the society sent the last set of records, and Andersen stated that she has not sent those records for May or June.

“We cannot send those, provide those, until after the next meeting because they have not been approved,” said Andersen.

Pohlmann reiterated that the county wants to see the timesheets.

“I do not have a timesheet,” Andersen said. “But I guess I could send Audrey’s (Schoenbeck, another employee of the society). But I don’t have a timesheet. I’m just a monthly employee.”

Although Andersen’s position is salary, Pohlmann asked if she has any records at all that indicate how much time she spends working for the society every month. Andersen responded that she keeps track of the hours for her personal records, but that she’s not required to have that.

“We are requiring that we want to know how much time you put in on a monthly basis,” said Pohlmann. “The other thing is that until we receive this stuff on a monthly basis, Leroy (Bast, County Treasurer) will not dispense your monthly payment.”

“So, even though the board does not require it, I’m going to have to send my hours to the county commissioners, is that a correct understanding?” Andersen asked.

Because the county wants more accountability of the society, Pohlmann explained that she will need to provide that information to the commissioners.

Shaun Friedrichsen raised a point to clarify Andersen’s earlier statement about the inability to send the meeting minutes to the commissioners before they are approved. He read a statute from the Open Meetings Act, which the society is required to follow since it receives taxpayer money.

“According to the Open Meetings Act, ‘Minutes shall be written (except as provided in subsection six of this section) and available for inspection within 10 working days, or by the next convened meeting, whichever occurs earlier,” said Friedrichsen.

Andersen responded that the society is not able to provide those minutes until they are approved by the historical society board.

“You’re asking me to send out to the commissioners minutes that may have an error on them?” asked Andersen. “[…] Guys, I don’t know. I have just been trying to follow the law as best I know, and that means, the way I read that is 10 days after this board has approved them. I have no problem once they’re approved. I do have a little bit of a problem sending out minutes that haven’t been approved by the board.”

Andersen continued by explaining that it is difficult to produce the minutes because the secretary, Roseann Zach, has to send them to Andersen since she, Zach, is not able to operate a computer. Andersen stated that after the meeting on Tuesday evening was over, she would go to her office and send all the records the commissioners requested.

“If you want your funds, we have to see those, along with the hours that you have spent,” said Pohlmann.

1 Comment on "Commissioners Demand Historical Society Accountability"

  1. ‘ “If you want your funds, we have to see those, along with the hours that you have spent,” said Pohlmann.’ Repeatedly contradicting their own policies while being informed that those policies are being met as resources permit sounds like “someone is being ousted from their job.

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