There are times due to illness, emergency or an immediate position vacancy that a community finds itself without a city clerk. To help a community in such a situation, a list of basic information has been compiled. To be ready for a clerk vacancy fill out and review this list annually, perhaps as part of the annual job evaluation process. Then maintain a copy of the list “offsite” in case of a weather emergency where access to city hall is not possible. Feel free to modify to fit your needs, and remember that inquiries can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are regular office hours required? If so, what are they?
What software is used?
If the city uses different software for different tasks, list each one and the purpose (ie: utility billing, financial accounting, payroll, word processing), where the passwords can be found and the contact information if support is available.
Who and how is the agenda prepared? It must be done 24 hours in advance of the meeting and properly posted.
City clerk attendance is required at all council meetings. Who takes the notes of the meeting in the absence of the clerk (for any reason)?
Is there a deputy or is it done by a council member?
Minutes must be written and published within 15 days of the meeting. Is the clerk’s substitute aware of this?
- Be sure to include the title of all resolutions and ordinances in the minutes.
- A list of disbursements must be included in a publication listing the vendor name, description of service or supply and gross amount paid.
- A summary of the receipts by fund must also be published.
- If an ordinance was passed, a copy must be published. (Suggest working with city attorney on this as an acceptable “summary” may be used to cut publication costs.)
Who signs the checks? A resolution passed by the council may be needed to change signature cards at the bank.
The clerk calculates all payroll. Who is going to do this and how? Is it done by computer program? Is there an emergency policy in place to write manual checks? Security and confidentiality should be emphasized if an interim clerk needs to access personnel files as much of the information is confidential.
If the clerk calculates, distributes and collects for utility billings, who is going to do this and how? Where should the deposits be made (which bank account)? Whoever does the deposits, they should be done as frequently as possible. The posting to the utility customer accounts should also be done as frequently as possible to determine account delinquencies that need notices sent out. How does the delinquent process work? What is the process for establishing new utility accounts for residents or ending current ones if someone moves out?
Clerk does reconciliation of all money and bank accounts and clerk’s records at least monthly.
Liquor and beer permits should be approved by the council and signed on the state’s Web site. Dates vary by business.
Cigarette permits expire June 30. This is an online process. Who has access? After council approval, clerk must submit permit to the state.
What other permits does the city issue and what are those processes? (i.e.: building permits, pet licenses, golf or peddler)Multiple payroll and other state and federal reports must be filed on a regular basis. (See Clerk’s Manual, Chapter 6)What other departments does the clerk work closely with, and what are the processes for those, such as library or parks and recreation?
Is the city participating in any grants or tax increment financing projects? What is the status of each?
Most records of the city are by law publically accessible; however, some may be considered confidential with restricted access by anyone except designated personnel.
Standard City Records
- Minute, resolution and ordinance books: this may be in three books, or all in one.
- Check registers and other account ledgers.
- Some deposits are done automatically, such as property taxes or Road Use Tax. Where is this information?
- Utility records for each account for each utility (usually in a register or ledger format.) This will also be used to reconcile outstanding bills, adjustments and other financial information.
- Payroll records for each inpidual employee. If the city has health insurance records they should be in a separate place from payroll information. (These records have restrictions; consult the city attorney if access is contemplated.)
List of Contacts with Contact Information
- Council members
- City staff
- City attorney
- Bond attorney, if the city has outstanding bonds
- Contact at main bank (Council may need to pass a resolution to “name” a temporary person in order to change the signature authorization)
- Insurance agent(s)
- Software support – accounting as well as website (if applicable)
- Passwords for all software, banking, online report portals and Web sites
- Newspaper contact for publications and tear-sheets
- County treasurer
- County auditor
Deadlines Specific to the Community
- Vendor payments
- Utility billing cycle
- Publication submission dates to newspaper/or where to post notices if under 200 in population.
- All city keys, passwords and city equipment (to include computer back up data)
- Combinations to safe
- Bank account(s) information and lock box information
- City ordinance or policy establishing city clerk position and job description
- City resolutions and ordinances (this is for location if kept anywhere other than as part of minute book)
- The League and its partners have a number of resources available for new clerks
- Clerk’s Calendar
- City Clerk/Finance Officers Handbook
- Mentoring program
- Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities (if a member, www.iamu.org)
- Iowa Rural Water Association (if a member)
- Local Council of Governments (COGs)
- Iowa Municipal Finance Officers Association (www.imfoa.org – provides ClerkNet, an email service)