OTTUMWA — City Administrator Andy Morris was placed on administrative leave following Tuesday’s council meeting, apparently ending his second tenure as Ottumwa’s city administrator.
Councilman Marc Roe characterized the move as a council decision, saying, “We’ve been talking about it over the past few days.”
Morris was at the meeting and there was no discussion of his tenure with the city during it. Neither Tuesday’s meeting nor any recent meetings have included a vote by the council on the subject. While Iowa’s open meetings law allows for closed sessions to discuss an employee’s competency or retention, a decision resulting from those discussions is subject to a vote in open session.
Roe said Wednesday no such vote has taken place.
“We haven’t done a vote to terminate him because he hasn’t been terminated,” he said. When asked whether there was a vote on placing Morris on administrative leave, Roe said there was none.
Morris confirmed his placement on administrative leave Wednesday. He said he and his wife will return to Missouri. “[We] really, really like this community. There’s a reason we came back.”
Calls by the Courier Wednesday morning to councilmen Matt Dalbey and Skip Stevens were not returned. Mayor Tom Lazio said Morris was placed on paid administrative leave and said the city followed the advice of legal counsel. He did not comment further, but said a formal statement would be released soon.
Morris was first hired as Ottumwa’s city administrator in July 2006. He followed Steve Rasmussen, who resigned earlier that year to take a position in Jefferson City, Missouri. Morris resigned in August 2007 to become the city administrator for Moberly, Missouri.
In January 2008, Ottumwa selected Joe Helfenberger as Morris’ successor. Helfenberger held the position for seven years. Morris applied to Ottumwa again after Helfenberger’s departure and returned as city administrator in November 2015.
It was not immediately clear who would become interim city administrator. Ottumwa has turned to different department heads after prior vacancies.