The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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October 25, 2013

DeWitt hires attorney in dispute

DEWITT — The DeWitt City Council this week elected to proceed with city policy for a wage dispute between the city and a DeWitt part-time police officer.

Officer Scott Knudtson has asked the council to pay him for 6.5 hours of time spent at a hearing for another police officer. The city as well as Police Chief David Porter have denied that it is “time worked” and, therefore, the process for resolving disagreements has been utilized. After exhausting previous procedures, the next step in the process is to hire an arbitrator. The city believed the Clinton County attorney’s office at no cost would handle the case, but he has decided not to do so.

The council approved hiring attorney James L. Pillers of Pillers Law Office in Clinton to conduct the proceedings at a cost of $600 or $200 per hour. Pillers has a certificate for arbitration in Iowa.

Though the estimated cost of wages for Knudtson is significantly less ($120) than the cost for Pillers, City Administrator Steve Lindner cited the policy and said it could not be rewritten to accommodate the case. He said the city could not set a precedent for future claims. The policy has not needed to be enforced before, he added.

“It’s not the cost, it’s the principle,” said Mayor Don Thiltgen, adding the city should not undermine the decision of the police chief and city administrator.

Councilman Verlyn Scheckel voted no on the decision, stating the police union should pay Knudtson for his time because the union requested his testimony.

The council approved an agreement with IIW Engineers and Surveyors of Dubuque for professional services for the 2014 Eighth Street reconstruction project. The services include the preliminary design, final design, construction administration, and construction observation and staking for a total cost of $182,500.

The project encompasses East Eighth Street and Eighth Street from Third Avenue to the county fairgrounds and includes water, sewer and storm water work. Lindner said the project should be completed in late October or November and is estimated to cost $1 million.

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