After some discussion and confusion, the new council agreed on a resolution to silence themselves in regards to water meters until staff can receive legal advice.
The motion was voted on by a 5-2 margin with Mayor Frank Konrad and Coun. Julia Butler voting in the negative.
“This morning I made a motion to defer discussion and direct staff to obtain legal advice in order to protect the municipality from potential legal action with regards to the water meter issue.” said Hammett.
Coun. Butler attempted to add an amendment to allow the mayor to speak to legal staff but it didn’t go anywhere.
Coun. Krog initially spoke against the vote stating that lawyers will not tell you ‘yes or no’ and will tell you that you are probably in a conflict of interest and it is up to you whether or not to continue. He also said consulting the lawyers is very costly.
Hammett clarified that the motion is to obtain legal advice to protect the municipality from legal action.
“I supported what Mr. Krog said about the cost it takes to seek a lawyer for this kind of advice and that they wouldn’t come back with any clear information for us on it,” said Butler to the Gazette after the meeting. “I didn’t think it would be a good investment of taxpayer money.”
The legal advice question originally came up at the Committee of the Whole meeting earlier in the day.
Mayor Konrad voted against the motion after voting for it the first time, moments before. He then said he didn’t understand the reference of the question and called a re-vote in which he voted against the motion.
Coun. Krog originally thought legal advice was regarding a potential conflict of interest with the water meter project and Mayor Konrad, whose company originally expressed an interest in the project but was rejected by the city.
“When Coun. Hammett read out her (motion) that it was about council not talking about water meters until we get a legal opinion (than I understood),” he said. “It is tied into the whole conflict thing, but to get a legal opinion to protect the city against a lawsuit.”
“I believe there is no conflict of interest,” Konrad told the Gazette afterwards. “It’s a witch hunt and I’ll stand by that statement. We’re wasting taxpayer’s dollars going after legal advice over a witch hunt. As mayor, I will stand solid on that.”