The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 25, 2013

DeWitt hires attorney in dispute

By Jan Huffman Herald Correspondent
The Clinton Herald

---- — 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.

Resolutions approving lien releases were passed. The remaining balance of $3,741 for the Silver Valley sewer connection fee for the Cressey subdivision was paid in full releasing the lien. The sewer project was done in 1993-94 and the sewer fee was enacted in 1995. An unpaid utility balance of $269 at 1244 Circle Drive was also paid in full resulting in a lien release.

An invoice for fees pertaining to separation of a sanitary service at 120 Sixth Ave. was approved with the lien amount recorded for payment over five years. The shared sanitary service was discovered during the Sixth Avenue reconstruction work this year, and the service was separated at the owner’s consent. The $660 cost is recorded as a lien to ensure the city gets paid over time.

The council approved Quad Cities Metallurgical Laboratory to analyze the copper water service line that deteriorated under Sixth Avenue. The seven-year-old line was repaired at a cost of $2,500 but the cause has not been determined. Expert analysis of the pipe will define the extent of the problem, Lindner said. The quote for the work is $3,311.

The council approved the final readings of amendments to the city’s code relating to parking during snow removal, location of solid waste containers, repealing of a section on remote outside registers, and lien exemptions.

The council continued its discussion on shed regulations by evaluating other cities’ policies.

Matt Simonson of Simonson Towing addressed the council concerning policy on calling tow truck operators for service. The city will investigate the policy.