OSKALOOSA – During meetings held on January 2, both the 911 Service Board and EMA Commission voted to enter into a new 2020 28E agreement together.
The new agreement, written by 911 Service Board attorney Nicholas Maxwell, was approved nine to one Thursday evening after a lengthy back and forth discussion between board members, their lawyers and Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Groenendyk. The opposing vote came from Groenendyk.
In 2015, the two boards entered into a 2015 28E Agreement that resulted in a lawsuit, with the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors suing the 911 Service Board and EMA Commission. The lawsuit, lasting two years, ended Dec. 16 when District Court Judge Crystal Cronk ruled that the 2015 agreement is ‘void and unenforceable’ as there were members on the Service Board that were not authorized to vote.
Although the Board of Supervisors cited several issues in the lawsuit, Judge Cronk only addressed the issue concerning votes as that single ruling made the entire agreement void.
In 2015, Service Board Administrator Jamey Robinson took office and removed those members from the board in an attempt to rectify the issues, but that wasn’t enough as the contract was still active. Robinson said since taking over the position he has cleaned things up drastically and the 911 Center is now accredited and running better than ever.
“When I took over, it was a wreck; there was money being spent illegally, they were understaffed, I had staff that could take a year off from work because they had so much comp time built up, which is illegal; and we’ve cleaned that up,” he said. “We’ve introduced protocol based dispatching and we are the only accredited 911 Center in the state of Iowa. We get asked by other 911 Centers weekly how we’re doing this and doing that.”
Frustrations were high among the board members present at the meeting Thursday evening. University Park Mayor George Toubekis asked Groenendyk directly, “Will we go back to court if we vote yes?”
Groenendyk was not able to answer during the meeting, as he hadn’t conferred with the other supervisors nor their legal team.
When asked if the Board has decided on a date to get together and discuss the next steps. Groenendyk said the meeting was called on such short notice that they hadn’t had a chance to discuss anything, let alone consult with their legal team.
“This [notification of the 911/EMA meeting] was sent out at 3:10 on a Tuesday afternoon, the day before New Years,” he said. “As you saw, nobody even brought it to their own legal representation and our County attorney is on vacation. How do you pass something major, that’s been in conflict like this for three-plus years and do it over a holiday with no legal representation at all.”
The 911 Service Board and the EMA Commission both had legal representation present.
A regular meeting for the Board of Supervisor is currently set for January 21 at 9 a.m.