New Atkins city administrator salary above average compared to similar sized towns in Iowa

Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 6:17 AM CST
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ATKINS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Atkins City Council approved a contract in October for a newly created city administrator position.

KCRG-TV9 obtained a copy of the contract for the city administrator position, which states it is a two-year-contract paying $92,000 annually. The minutes posted by the city of Atkins on its website for the meeting where the contract was presented on October 4th state that the contract was approved 3-2 as originally presented.

That $92,000 salary is higher than a number of other city administrator salaries in Iowa towns about the size of Atkins.

Postville pays $71,000 a year for its town of 2,500. Marengo has a population of just under 2,500 people, and pays its city administrator $68,000 a year. Belle Plaine pays $60,000 a year with about the same population.

TV9 checked 10 cities total - all of them were in this same range.

Councilwoman Julie DeMeulenaere and others questioned whether that position was necessary in a town of about 2,000 people.

The city also received advice from a consultant, Callahan Municipal Consultants, recommending the city wait to start a search for a city administrator.

The organization sent a letter to Mayor Visser in July, which in part states, “we cannot in good conscious start a city administrator search at this time.” The letter advised the council to wait until after the November elections, and then discuss the position with the elected council members.

But against that advice, DeMeulenaere said the city hired then-interim city clerk, Kelly Groskurth, to fill the city administrator role in October.

KCRG-TV9 also received a copy of a letter Councilwoman Julie DeMeulenaere received from the mayor about her censure Tuesday night, following the council meeting where the council voted to approve a resolution issuing a public censure against her.

The letter gives three issues about DeMeulenaere’s conduct. It claims she “may have violated Iowa Code Chapter 68-B,” as well as “communicated with City employees in an inappropriate manner,” and “made defamatory statements about employees”. The letter references Iowa Code 68-B which details ethics standards for elected officials - but it doesn’t specify what she allegedly violated or give clues about what exactly happened.

The censure letter and resolution of public censure approved at Tuesday night’s meeting both say DeMeulenaere wouldn’t meet privately about the concerns.

But, DeMeulenaere sent TV9 an email chain where she said she would meet with them, but only if they told her what it was about first so that she could prepare.

The city said during the meeting Tuesday that a possible lawsuit prevents it from giving more details publicly.

Censures aren’t common, but the Waterloo Council issued a censure letter to member Margaret Klein about two weeks ago. That letter is about 9 pages, compared to the two paragraph note DeMeulenaere received. Klein was accused of violating nine of the city’s codes and policies; five of which were ultimately confirmed.

TV9 asked Atkins Mayor Bruce Visser about the salary of the city administrator position at the council meeting Tuesday, and he told us he would get back to us. Wednesday, TV9 reached out to Mayor Visser following up on that inquiry, and have not yet heard back.

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