Gerald Smith

Gerald Smith

The Maquoketa City Council failed to approve a new contract for City Manager Gerald Smith Monday night.

With one councilman absent, six members split the vote 3-3 on whether to approve a new contract.

Smith will continue to work under the terms of his initial contract for the time being.

Council members Erica Barker, Josh Collister and Ron Horan voted against the contract’s approval. Jessica Kean, Jacob Baker and Mark Lyon voted to approve the contract. Kevin Kuhlman did not attend the meeting.

Kean said she thought fellow council members had come to a consensus with the contract after holding four or five special meetings about it. She was surprised the measure failed.

She said Smith had received a “satisfactory” review.

Her statement contradicted comments Collister made after Monday’s meeting. 

Collister said he would not approve Smith’s new contract after the city manager’s “sub-par evaluation.”

Smith said his evaluation “was pretty much as I expected,” and he initially was hired because the council wanted to see change in Maquoketa.

“Change brings with it resistance and growing pains,” the city manager said. “I wasn’t hired to be my predecessor.”

The contract left too much “gray area,” Barker said after the meeting.

“In regard to salary and office hours, I would like to request additional stipulations. Right now, it just seems too vague,” Barker said.”

The city agreed to pay Smith $110,000 a year when he was hired in 2017. The rejected contract proposed a 3.25 percent salary increase, or $113,575, retroactive to July 1. Then, Smith’s salary would have jumped $7,500 to $121,075 beginning Nov. 1.

The city manager also annually would have received 160 hours of vacation on his anniversary date, with up to 40 hours of carryover pending council approval.

Horan said that with only one meeting under his belt, he didn’t have enough information to make an informed decision.

Kean attributed much of Monday’s decision to high council turnover. 

“From my perspective, this process has been about trying to rectify some issues with Gerald’s original contract and very few council members here today were part of negotiating his original contract,” she said. Collister and Kuhlman are the only remaining members of the board that hired Smith in 2017.

Councilmen who missed Monday’s meeting or voted not to approve the contract (Kuhlman, Barker, Collister and Horan) can ask the council to reconsider that contract, according to Mayor Don Schwenker.

“We will figure out what the questions were, answer them, and move on.

“Gerald is safe, and it is not a big deal,” Schwenker added.

The city’s Personnel Committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss setting Smith’s goals for 2019 and “see if we can get the contract more focused so that there is no gray area,” Barker said.