OTTUMWA — The city council’s first meeting of the year is Tuesday. The most important discussion is not likely to be anything said in public.
Tuesday’s agenda includes a closed session after the meeting “for the purpose of discussing possible applicants for the City Administrator position.” The city unveiled a timeline for making a decision on the post, which has been vacant since August, about a month ago.
City Attorney Joni Keith said in December the council would likely work to pare down the list of candidates to five people before opening up the process to the public. That’s a similar approach to what the city has used during prior searches. A public meet-and-greet with the candidates is scheduled for Jan. 24, a Friday, and interviews with the finalists in open session are scheduled for the next day.
Iowa law clearly allows the closed session, offering an exemption to the state’s open meetings law “to evaluate the professional competency of an individual whose appointment [or] hiring … is being considered.”
The exemption also requires that the closed session be necessary to avoid “needless and irreparable injury to that individual’s reputation.” Most governmental bodies have interpreted that to include potential damage to relationships with candidates’ current employers.
During the open portion of Tuesday’s meeting, the council plans to discuss amending its agreement with the Ottumwa Economic Development Corp. The move is needed due to the merger of OEDC, the Ottumwa Area Chamber of Commerce and Partners In Progress. That merger was approved last month by the organizations.
Council members will also consider a change order to the streetscape project. The changes include addition of colored, stamped concrete for crosswalks and for repair of a traffic signal’s base. The changes add approximately $12,000 to the cost of the $5.2 million project.
The council’s meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 7 in the council chambers at City Hall.