The Keokuk City Council signed off on an early retirement agreement with Finance Director John Russell. The move should allow Keokuk to have enough money to cover the salary of new City Administrator Aaron Burnett during the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2016.
The agreement allows Russell to use all of his unused vacation time and accrued comp time before his official departure at the end of business on June 30, 2016. It also authorizes him to pursue any and all employment without restriction.
Keokuk will continue to pay for a family health insurance policy for Russell until he turns 65. In exchange, Russell waives the right to any sick leave payout and will not receive any lump-sum payment for his early retirement.
Burnett said the city expects to pay Russell’s insurance for about two years, unless he finds another job that provides health insurance.
Questions surfaced while the city council was debating the buy-out agreement as to the reasoning behind offering early retirement to Russell. Aldermen were told this was a negotiated deal that had to be done to make sure the funding was in place for Burnett’s position, as originally planned.
Burnett said there is no cookie-cutter approach to employee benefits.
“There is a diversity of employees within the city and each one of them will have a different compensation package and a different consideration,” said Burnett. “Some of those [come] through contracts, some through union negotiations and some are non-union.”
It appears Russell fit into his own category as he did not have a contract with the city. Mayor Tom Marion said Russell had a verbal agreement with the previous mayor after Russell was hired in 2008 and the city stuck with it over the years.
Burnett said this is the only early retirement incentive offered by the city in the last five years.