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Nepotism policy highlights discussion on new hire

Staff writer

A series of interviews during the past week with applicants for a city public works position brought Mayor Larry Larsen and Interim Public Works Director Ronnie Harms face-to-face with the city’s nepotism policy.

Larsen and Harms wanted to hire Todd Woodruff, but worried that his grandmother Janice Woodruff being a council member might violate the city’s nepotism policy.

Examination of the policy indicated there was no conflict, but Larsen brought it before the council to encourage discussion.

Referring to Woodruff anonymously, Larsen and the council reviewed the policy which states that a member of an employee’s immediate family cannot be the employee’s supervisor.

City clerk Stephanie Ax read an opinion from city attorney Robert Lane: “With a community the size of Peabody, I imagine it would be tough to not have anyone related to an elected official work for the city. I would suggest that the council vote on a new policy that removes the entire nepotism paragraph if you want to be in compliance with the policy and still be able to employ those persons.”

The council was split on the need to hire the candidate before having Lane review the entire policy. Bob Knapp and Travis Wilson voted to immediately hire the candidate because of time restraints of the part-time employees whose jobs will end before the next council meeting. Steve Rose and Tim Peterson voted against immediately hiring the person and Janice Woodruff abstained. Larsen broke the tie with a vote to hire the candidate, Todd Woodruff.

In other business:

  • The council unanimously accepted the proposed budget for 2015, with an increase of just more than 4 mills, raising the mill levy to 77.9 from 73.2 mills.
  • Charles Orcutt attended the meeting to share photographs of some rock and chunks of concrete the city had poured into the storm ditch that runs along Poplar St. in front of his house to keep the ditch from washing away during heavy rains. The rock and concrete were poorly placed and insufficient to help the erosion situation, council members agreed. Larsen and Harms will meet with Orcutt Thursday afternoon solve the problem.
  • Contract renewal for corporate credit card services through Wheatland Card Solutions was approved.
  • City Clerk Stephanie Ax told council members the state employees’ health plan coverage for city employees will be up for renewal Oct. 1. Ax will bring coverage costs to the next meeting for a decision by the council on renewal.
  • Council agreed to have Florence Web Computers serve as the city’s website administration and maintenance provider.
  • After discussion, a proposal from Middlecreek, Inc. was tabled once more for additional information about repair or replacement of a culvert at the north end of Elm St.
  • Larsen reported that a check for $4,900 had been received from Marion County for an additional adjustment on the property tax on the Baker Buildings.
  • Council members listened to a presentation by Jan Brandon of Wheatstate Manor in Whitewater about an event Sept. 6 involving bicycle riders raising money for the care facility. Several routes will take riders through Peabody.

Last modified Aug. 14, 2014

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