Mayor Klakken vetoes city council action


Mayor Mike Klakken on Monday vetoed a measure passed by the Dillon City Council at its last meeting that insisted that Klakken pay a $2,766 legal bill.

“The city charter is silent on vetoes, and so is city ordinance, so we have to fall back on state code, which says you have to do a veto in writing by the next meeting of the City Council and state the reasons for the veto,” said Klakken, who included a letter, dated March 17, announcing his veto with the packets distributed to City Council members for their meeting tonight.

The $2,766 bill in question covers work performed by Adam Shaw, from local law firm Erb & Suenram. Klakken hired Shaw earlier this year to try to clear up a legal controversy that had arisen over the City Council’s refusal to consent to Klakken’s appointments of a new city treasurer and city attorney.

Councilperson Dick Achter, a member of the Finance Committee, said at the March 5 City Council meeting that the Council should make Klakken pay the $2,766 bill because the mayor had not sought Council approval to hire an outside attorney to review the matter.

“It was discussed in the Finance Committee that in our opinion that was not something that was asked for and the city should not pay for, so we did not approve that bill,” explained Achter, of the Finance Committee’s unanimous vote earlier that day to refuse to pay the Shaw bill.

But in a March 17 letter to the City Council explaining his veto, Klakken contended that the Council, which voted 6-1 to make him pay the legal bill, was itself out of order in voting on that resolution because it failed to provide minutes from its Finance Committee meeting and get the resolution placed onto the agenda for the full City Council meeting.

“To have a vote from any committees of the City Council, minutes of the committee meeting must be submitted to the Mayor to be placed on the agenda for the next regular City Council meeting. This was not done for the Finance meeting held at 1 p.m. on March 5, 2014,” wrote Klakken in his letter to the Council.

“Thus, any actionable item from the Finance Committee meeting cannot be acted upon by the City Council until the minutes of the meeting are put on the agenda with forty-eight hours notice due to Montana Open Meeting laws,” wrote Klakken, who claimed the Council’s vote at the March 5 meeting also violated Open Meeting Laws because the item in question was of significant public interest but was even not placed on the meeting’s agenda.

The City Council has recently come under intense criticism for what some saw as another violation of Open Meeting Laws last month by seven Council members who signed a Feb. 6 letter and sent it to a judge overseeing a case involving the city, with some claiming that action constituted a meeting.

In his March 17 letter, Klakken backed up his veto with three other arguments, including one contending that in sticking him with the Erb & Suenram bill, the City Council was essentially vetoing itself on an earlier vote.


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