Waukon City Council approves settlement agreement in wrongful termination lawsuit filed by former City employee

by Bob Beach

During its regular meeting Monday, September 21, the Waukon City Council approved a settlement agreement in a wrongful termination suit filed by Richard Herman, a former employee of the City’s Water and Sewer Department. Under the terms of the agreement, the City, without admitting any wrongdoing, will pay Herman $20,000 for lost wages and $33,334 for “alleged mental anguish” as well as $26,666 to Herman’s attorney, Dorothy O’Brien. In addition, the City will provide Herman with a reference letter stating that he was a good employee who “left the City because of a certification issue,” and pay the costs for Herman to take the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wastewater Certification exam, as long as he takes the test within six months.
Waukon City Clerk Al Lyon reported that three individuals - Christine Enyart, Ben Rausch and Jean Brink - filed the necessary papers to run for the vacant at-large Council seat resulting from Darrold Brink’s resignation. The Council voted unanimously to appoint Enyart to fill the seat until the election. The Council also voted unanimously to appoint Lynn Sorenson and Katie Fahey to the Board of Adjustment and to reappoint Jerry Schoenthal to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
City Attorney Jim Garrett reported that he had received requested changes to the City’s right-of-way ordinance in connection with the proposed franchise agreement with Alliant Energy, but he had not had a chance to review the changes. Garrett also reported that Black Hills Energy had also expressed interest in establishing a franchise agreement with the City and the Council agreed to move forward with that request under the same terms as the agreement with Alliant, which includes a three-percent franchise fee.
The Council met with Lyle TeKippe of Fehr Graham Engineering, who updated the Council on the 2016 Street Improvement Project, which will involve the repaving of Third Avenue SW from Ninth Street to West Street as well as the cul-de-sac on First Street SW. TeKippe said that the project would involve 84 properties and that there is still some field work left to be done, adding that quantities have not yet been determined so he could not provide an accurate cost estimate for the project yet. TeKippe said that smoke testing of the storm and sanitary sewers would be done within the next couple of weeks to determine what repairs would need to be completed over the course of the street project. He said that he would be prepared for a public meeting on the project within the next four to six weeks.
The Council also met with a representative from the Northeast Iowa Humane Society, who told the Council that the new animal shelter and adoption center in Decorah is now prepared to offer the City services to house stray and lost dogs and cats. The Council agreed that the new shelter offers a better option for dealing with stray and lost animals but would need to take steps first to terminate the City’s contract with DuWayne Snitker for dog pound services.
In other business, the Council voted unanimously to accept Luana Savings Bank’s bid on a $2,515,000 refinancing bond. The Mayor noted that the bank’s bid would save the City approximately $70,000 over the next lowest bid.