Muscatine City Council Tables Motion to Terminate City Administrator’s Contract

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

At the October 17th Muscatine City Council meeting, Councilmember Kelcey Brackett requested, “that we have an agenda item added to the 11/07 meeting for discussion and possible action to end the city administrator’s contract.” Brackett received consensus.

At the November 7th meeting, Brackett shared that several events that happened since he added the item made him want to consider it at the December 5th meeting instead. “Usually, contract review for the city administrator would be required to be completed by 10/31. At some point in the process of developing a new review, that timing was pushed back.”

Brackett also wished to take into account the current City Administrator Gregg Mandsager’s recent FMLA leave (which allows up to twelve weeks unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child, personal illness, or the illness of an immediate family member or twenty-six weeks to care for a family member injured in the military). “I don’t know the specifics of FMLA,” stated Brackett, “but I want to make sure we respect that as much as possible.”

In the period between November 7th and December 5th, Brackett requested the Muscatine City Council (the Council) take several steps. First, he requested they appoint Mark Aaronson Interim City Administrator. He received this recommendation from Matt Brick, the City Attorney.

Because Aaronson could not become Interim City Administrator immediately, Brackett also desired to appoint a Deputy City Administrator to serve during Mandsager’s leave and to help Aaronson adjust. “The obvious choice to me would be the senior most department head, and I believe that would be Rich Klimes,” he elaborated.

Once Brackett presented his motions, other City Council Members responded. Councilmember Allen Harvey objected to tabling Brackett’s original motion for a set period, citing concerns that Mandsager’s review may not get completed in time.

Councilmember Phillip Fitzgerald shared discomfort in seeking an interim city administrator from elsewhere. “We have excellent staff department heads here. I don’t think we need to bring somebody in from outside to do this job,” he asserted. Brackett agreed that a local interim could have benefits, but that the interim should not currently work for the City.

Nancy Lueck, City Finance Director, encouraged Brackett to consider Jerry Ewers as a possible Deputy City Administrator, noting he attends all budget meetings for every department. Based on these recommendations, Brackett decided, “it would make sense, probably, to have Rich and Jerry share that position.”

The Council passed the motion to table action on the City Administrator’s contract four to three. The Council also passed the resolution to allow the City Attorney to compile a list of possible Interim City Administrators five to two. Finally, the Council passed the resolution to instate Ewers and Klimes as Deputy City Administrator and Clerk by a vote of five to two.

In closing, Brackett asked the council for a consensus vote, “to direct that the Interim Administrator review all personnel changes that have occurred since the October 17th City Council Meeting.” This motion failed four votes to three.

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