City’s attorney says “nothing weird” about Niggemeyer resignation deal

Niggemeyer’s resignation needs council approval, Mohrfeld’s signature

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

FORT MADISON – In a weird twist of protocol, a police captain’s retirement agreement is going in front of the Fort Madison City Council.

Police Captain, and former police chief, Bruce Niggemeyer through his attorney Tom Skewes of Fort Madison has asked that an agreement outlining his retirement be signed by Mayor Matt Mohrfeld, which requires a majority vote of the city council.

According to Fort Madison City Code, City Manager David Varley has authority over action concerning city employees with the exception of the police and fire chiefs, which require city council approval.

On Friday, Varley said he was perplexed as to why Niggemeyer and Skewes have asked to have the agreement signed by the mayor.

“It’s pretty clear that there’s a lot of stuff in there and I think that’s why the attorneys wanted it to be more of a contractual agreement, rather than the typical resignation letter,” Varley said.

“I’m very perplexed by it, but this is the way our attorney and their attorney wanted to move forward with it, so it had the backing of the City Council.”

Patrick O’Connell, the city’s attorney with Lynch-Dallas of Cedar Rapids, wrote in an email to Pen City Current Friday, that section of city code delineates the Manager’s authority to make employment decisions.

“However, a contract intended to be binding upon the City, including a contract of resignation, must be approved by the City Council and signed by the Mayor, in order for it be binding. That is our usual process for approval of contracts,” O’Connell said.

“There is nothing weird going on here.”

The agreement is a six-page document that was attached to all City Council members’ pre-meeting packets Thursday night.

The agreement in essence provides for a hold-harmless agreement for the city, in which Niggemeyer gives up any right to sue the city going forward as well as waiving due process with the civil service commission.

In exchange, Niggemeyer will retire at his current standing within the department with all the benefits afforded a police officer captain in Fort Madison under city policy.

The agreement also references an investigation into a high-speed chase on Easter, where Niggemeyer pursued a man through Lee County near Montrose and attempted to stop the eluding suspect with a vehicle maneuver.

The agreement provides for a written reprimand regarding the chase, and states “Niggemeyer shall not receive any demotion, termination or loss of pay.”

The deal also required Niggemeyer to submit disability paperwork to the to Municipal Fire and Police Retirement Board by May 31 for service-related disabilities.

Calls to Skewes for comment on the agreement went unreturned Friday.

In an unrelated issue, the council will also entertain a 3-year lease agreement with RiverFest founder Charles Craft.

The new lease agreement requires a $600 annual fee for the four-day festival. Craft would also have to submit a $500 utility deposit, and pay $50 for each electric meter connection. Craft would also pay for additional picnic tables after the first 20 provided by the city.

The agreement also requires Craft to have sufficient toilet facilities for the number of people in attendance, and he must provide public access from the entrance at 6th Street south to the river, east to the Marina and then back west along the road next to the BSNF tracks.

The deal gives Craft exclusive use of Riverview Park during the four days of the event..

The council is also scheduled to vote on:

• seal coat and asphalt bids for the 2020 roads programs.
• a resolution to apply for an Iowa DOT State Recreational Trails program grant for constructing of the Connecting Fort Madison! Phase 4 48th Street Trail Connection.
• the mayor’s signature on professional services agreements with Calhoun Burns & Associates for bridge replacements on 27th Street over Dry Creek and Avenue F over French Creek in the 1600 block.

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