McGregor grudgingly approves police budget


McGregor Mayor Gay Hallberg (right) looked on as Janet Hallberg (left) took the oath of office and became a member of the McGregor City Council at the city’s regular monthly meeting on Nov. 20. The seat had been vacant for the past two months after former councilman Jason Bogdonovich accepted the Mar-Mac Police Chief position. Hallberg was elected on Nov. 5. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

 

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

 

At the Nov. 4 meeting of the Mar-Mac Unified Police Commission, Rogeta Halvorson was the only commissioner not to approve the 2014-2015 budget, which was a proposed $241,833.34—nearly $11,000 less than the current budget. Marquette provides 59 percent of that total amount—$142,681.67. McGregor foots 41 percent—$99,151.67. After meeting approval at the commission meeting, the budget then moved on to both the Marquette and McGregor city councils for approval. Marquette approved the budget at its Nov. 19 meeting, but, before any action was taken at McGregor’s Nov. 20 meeting, Halvorson said she wanted to explain why she took issue with the budget.

 

“We didn’t have time to really approve it, but the practice is to approve it and bring it to the council,” Halvorson said, mentioning that, while the commission’s meeting packet was distributed the Friday before the Monday meeting, the budget was not included and instead provided at the meeting. 

 

“We had 10 minutes to look at it and that was it,” she continued. “When we agreed to the 50/50 split with Marquette, it was agreed that we’d sit down and look at expenses. McGregor had a whole page of expenses, but no chance to provide input. And I did ask three or four times prior [to the commission meeting] to look at the budget.”

 

While Halvorson acknowledged that the budget had decreased, which was largely attributable to lower salaries for the police chief and officer replacements, she said there were other areas that could have been trimmed.

 

Councilman Joe Muehlbauer echoed Halvorson’s disappointment.

 

“I sat in on some of those meetings [regarding the split]  and fought harder than heck to make this work, but Rogeta’s right, it’s a new chief, but it’s still the same old, same old,” he said.

 

The council did approve the budget, with Halvorson making the motion.

 

“It’s not that I don’t support the police,” Halvorson concluded, “but McGregor deserves to give input. It’s the commission’s budget, but it’s McGregor’s money.”

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