SIOUX CITY | A month-old vote on a union contract became the latest friction point between Woodbury County Board members and county Auditor Pat Gill on Tuesday. The sides have been at odds over transparency and communication issues.
Gill during the public comment portion of the meeting brought up a vote from last month in which the board approved a one-year contract with the Communications Workers of America Local 7177.
He said board members never asked his office for a cost analysis, which would have informed them of the financial impact of the new agreement. Gill said his analysis shows the change will cost $82,104 more than the current contract.
He said the vote is one in a series of missteps by the board. Gill and the board previously clashed over improved courthouse security.
"This is our job. You know, I think we can do better collectively if we just discuss, if we have communication between us," Gill told board members.
County Board Chairman George Boykin, of Sioux City, said he was blindsided by the comments Tuesday and that Gill should have shared his views with board members prior to the meeting.
“I wish we would have gotten this prior to just a couple of minutes ago,” he said.
Boykin said negotiators closely evaluated the contract proposals and board members had a one-page summary of the changes. The document didn’t include a cost summary.
James Van Bruggen, executive director of the Taxpayer Research Council, a Sioux City watchdog and government transparency group, told the board that the city and school district routinely provide a financial impact statement during contract votes.
"It is baffling that they are approving contracts without knowing how much it is going to cost," Van Bruggen said.
The agreement gave sheriff’s master deputies and sergeants 2 percent raises and changed how other workers are promoted. The union represents 31 workers.
Gill also took issue with the County Board’s vote in March to not give four elected department heads, including himself, a pay raise.
Boykin after the meeting said the board was working to keep spending in check.
"I was surprised this morning when that (elected officials pay) issue resurfaced," Boykin said.
Tuesday was the third meeting in which Gill has used the public comment portion to criticize the County Board. On May 6, he called the board’s decision-making process for new courthouse security “dysfunctional.”
The board voted to bypass the Sheriff’s Office and have the county Human Resources Department run courthouse security. Gill said the public wasn’t given enough time to review the staffing change. He authored an independent analysis comparing the proposals.
Sheriff Dave Drew has said the board’s vote was based on personality differences, which Boykin says is unfair.
Gill on Tuesday told the board improving communication is vital.
“I don’t know if we’ve done something to earn your mistrust,” he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described Boykin's comments regarding Gill presenting information about the union contract. This version has been corrected.