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Keokuk Offers City Administrator Job


First Ward Alderman Mike O'Connor said the Keokuk City Council's decision to offer the job of city administrator to Aaron Burnett is a big deal for the city and its residents.  "I think we are giving the city and the people of Keokuk an early Christmas present," said O'Connor.

The city council met behind closed doors for about 20 minutes Monday night, even pausing to address an issue with the recording device, before making the announcement.

Aaron Burnett currently serves as city administrator in Humboldt, Ia., where he has worked for nearly five years. He said on his application to Keokuk that he was looking to advance his career in eastern Iowa, closer to his family.

The city interviewed three candidates this month.

Alderwoman Susan Dunek, who was one of five city council members who participated in the interviews, said Burnett stood out from the other two finalists.

"Sometimes you have a candidate where the answers, the discussions, the interactions, you just know this is the right person," said Dunek. "That's the way I felt."

Mayor Tom Marion said the next step in the process is to finalize a contract with Burnett. He said he has a draft version of the contract, including a starting salary of $110,000 plus benefits and moving expenses.

Marion said Burnett was in Keokuk over the weekend looking at homes.  Marion said Burnett plans to give the city of Humboldt a 30-day notice of his departure. That means his first day on the job would likely be in late November/early December.

Burnett's responsibilities will include preparing the city's budget and overseeing day-to-day operations.

Marion said he's excited to have someone with Burnett's enthusiasm and passion coming to Keokuk. 

Keokuk has been without a city administrator since early 2008, when the city's first administrator, Odis Jones, left after a couple months on the job to take a position on the east coast. The city council talked about hiring a replacement multiple times prior to moving forward this year.

That prompted a quick assessment from Mike O'Connor when it comes to the hiring.

"It's been a long time coming," said O'Connor.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.