OTTUMWA — The city of Ottumwa will change the way it’s represented legally, getting rid of a full-time city attorney and instead contracting services.

The Ottumwa City Council on Tuesday approved the agreement in a 3-1 agreement with Joni Keith, who has opted to retire as city attorney.

City Administrator Phillip Rath did not immediately respond to the Ottumwa Courier’s public records request for the separation agreement. Nor did Roth respond to a request for information on what the city will spend on contracting attorney services.

Councilmember Matt Dalbey, who was the lone dissenting vote, said during the meeting that part of the agreement included continued health insurance for 15 months provided Keith pays 40 percent of the premium.

Dalbey pointed to a policy the Ottumwa City Council passed in 1993 that states it is the policy that employees should not get continued health insurance unless they pay all of the premium.

“I understand there are other factors that go into this decision, some of which could be quite negative for the city,” Dalbey said. “But I think it’s our duty to put forth policy and to follow and stick with that policy.”

He also pointed to the city’s recent staff reductions to the Ottumwa Fire Department and elsewhere.

“I don’t think it’s fair that we didn’t offer ... a separation agreement to those employees,” Dalbey said. He added that his opposition had nothing to do with Keith, but rather principle of the matter. He felt it was a good idea for the city to pursue contracted attorney services going forward.

Kyle Ocker is the group editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the first vice president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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