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Letter to the Editor-Dan Wikens

April 6, 2012
Northern-Sun Print
Letter to the Editor I will respond to a letter written by Dwayne Luze and Don Lyon about my involvement in the Tama County Economic Development Commission. I will talk about facts, opinions and my duties as a 3rd District County Supervisor. Some Opinions I would like to share. First I do believe that tax dollars should be spent in the best interest of the tax payer. I also believe that a main duty of a County Supervisor is to be a watch dog of the dollars. It took only a short time to learn that you are not expected to ask questions or disagree with those already in power. I think unless term limits are set on boards, you will always have those that are so busy defending their prior decisions that it clouds the issues. You also seem to have people who have never heard the word, NO or who can admit, things aren’t OK. Here are some facts that need to be known. I did attend TCED meetings as I believe we need growth to stay alive. However I did stop going to them and this is why. It does not take too much knowledge to know that we are in tough economic times. As a County Supervisor I agreed to freeze County Employee’s wages for the budget year 2010-2011. At the TCED meeting their budget was an agenda item. Supervisor Jordan could not attend and I had another meeting later that night, so I went to as much of the meeting as I could. I was informed that the director was requesting a 3% raise and an extra 2 weeks of vacation “because she works harder than any county employee, including the Auditor”. I had no problem giving my opinion on that request and waited for over an hour for the business part of the meeting to start so I could give my official statement and hopefully vote. The business meeting did not get started and I had to leave for the other meeting. I did express my opinion with another member who agreed with me. The next day I was informed by one of the powers that be, that I was a bully and I made her cry and that I abuse my power as a Supervisor. Supervisor Jordan and I checked the TCED agenda for the item of Director’s Salary. It was not on the agenda so we both attended a meeting that we deemed a must attend. We later found out that the agenda was amended to add the director’s salary and she was voted her 3% raise. Now I know why they call and ask how many Supervisors and ask for the names of the Supervisors who will attend the meetings. I have questioned expenditures prior to this time and was always told that they have other money besides Tama County’s contribution to spend. I was pretty much told the same thing about the raise. It was clear the only money that I could have a true say in, was the County Contribution and that was my duty as an Elected Supervisor. I formed my own opinion that it was a waste of my time and breath to attend the TCED and I would address the money issue at budget time. When the resignation of the director was given I attended the TCED meeting in hopes of getting a fresh start for something good. I am almost certain that I sat next to Dwayne Luze and in fact we talked about a house in Tama that was coming up for sale. At this meeting, members of the TCED executive board admitted there were problems. Numerous people spoke out how it was not going well and the members of the executive board did not disagree. At one time during the meeting I made the comment that we need to move forward. Dwayne Luze who I am pretty sure was sitting less than six feet east of me, agreed with me. This meeting was in February 2012 and just for the record, I have checked with several who attended this same meeting to verify my information. The truth is always the truth. I know how some times memory loss occurs and things just can’t be remembered. A few weeks later Keith Sash came to one of the County Supervisor’s work sessions and announced that the TCED executive board decided to pay the director extra for resigning. Both Supervisor Jordan and I strongly disagreed. Sash went on to say that she did the County a favor by resigning so she should be given enough money to pay for 6 months of health insurance. Sash stated it was cheaper than paying unemployment if she was fired. Tama County HR, Susan ]ones was present during this open work session and stated that she agreed with Supervisor Jordan and myself that no money should be paid for a resignation. Then the discussion was brought forward about paying for equipment that was purchased for TCED. The dollar amount was close to $4,300 for the equipment, some of which was purchased in 2009. Sash also stated that they agreed to sell the equipment back for less, rather than keeping the equipment. Sash was reminded that Government equipment should not be sold without bids. Sash stated he would present this to the full TCED board for approval. On, 3-23-12, at approximately, 10:16am, Susan Jones, by phone conversation, did confirm the facts of the meeting as listed above and stated she still thinks it was wrong to pay the bonus and then sell the equipment after buying it. I will admit that I was frustrated with the current events and did not go to the TCED meeting. I am sure it would not have been the county’s money used any way. As an Elected County Supervisor I did receive numerous negative expressions of the poor use of tax dollars to give as a bonus for resigning. As a 3rd District Supervisor I voiced the concerns of the people I was elected by to other members of the TCED with no changes being made. I believe I did my job as the 3rd District Supervisor and that is why I recommended a cut in the Tama County Tax dollars provided. I wanted to see improvement before I give out tax dollars. As for some direct comments by Luze and Lyons. We have many good employees at Tama County. Several have retired after many years of dedicated service with no bonus paid to them. I have had a lot of the Tama County workers ask if they are getting a bonus if they quit or retire. As for fiscal responsibility, I would challenge them to provide to the public all the expenses which includes the out of state trips, meals, Continuing Ed Classes and the extras paid out and let the public make their own decisions about the spending. If I am proved wrong I will be the first to admit it. Remember the truth is always the truth. I will leave with one opinion that I believe in. If a plant can’t grow because of poor dirt, it is time to get fresh dirt. Dan Wilkens, Tax Payer Rural Montour


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