OTTUMWA — A copy of the city’s severance agreement with former City Administrator Andy Morris suggests the city will pay more than $78,000 in salary alone, with insurance benefits and accrued vacation adding to the cost.
Morris resigned as city administrator less than a week after being placed on administrative leave by Mayor Tom Lazio. While Lazio has said he was acting in response to the council’s concerns, the council had not voted to remove Morris. Council members voted to accept Morris’ resignation on Aug. 23, three days after he was placed on leave.
The severance agreement pays Morris’ salary in biweekly installments, including a cost of living adjustment he was due in November. Those payments come to approximately $84,500. Morris’ health insurance will be covered through Feb. 29, 2020.
The agreement notes the final payment will be March 3, 2020, which will include “5.5 hours of accrued incentive time and 55.72 hours of accrued vacation.”
This is the second time Morris’ severance agreement has come before council members. When it was first on the council’s agenda two weeks ago, it was removed at the request of Councilman Marc Roe. The agreement was not presented as part of the council packet, which is publicly available, at that time.
Terms of the agreement are in keeping with Morris’ contract from October 2015. That contract allowed either Morris or the city to end his employment, without cause, subject to a six-month severance.
Lazio and Joni Keith, who serves both as city attorney and human resources director, have begun vetting companies to conduct the search for a new city administrator. The city has estimated a three- to six-month time frame for the search, with a decision more likely toward the longer end of that estimate.
Other items on the council agenda include acceptance of the completion of work needed for the city’s quiet zone application. The zone requires federal approval which, to date, has not been given. If approved, the zone will mean trains do not need to sound their horns while approaching intersections in town, though they may still do so in emergencies.
The council will also consider a zoning change involving the site of the former Wesley United Methodist Church, across from Ottumwa High School. The site is currently zoned as R-4 multi-residential, and the proposal changes it to C-2 commercial.
The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, in the council chambers at City Hall.