Water Board Votes To No Longer Pursue Keltner Removal

Water Board Trustee Jon Zobel (far left) and Trustee Joe Ryan (far right) discuss the status of the Oskaloosa Water Department with Manager Chad Coon (center back) this past week.

Water Board Trustee Jon Zobel (far left) and Trustee Joe Ryan (far right) discuss the status of the Oskaloosa Water Department with Manager Chad Coon (center back) this past week.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The Oskaloosa Municipal Water Board of Trustees voted this week to not pursue any further legal action against the City of Oskaloosa in former Trustee Errin Keltners removal.

Recently appointed Water Board Trustee Jon Zobel read a portion of an email from the attorney representing the Board in the case. “Under the circumstances, and the best working assumptions are, in my view, the removal action is effective.” Keltner would have up to 30 days from the date of decision to file an appeal on the case.

That appeal would come without the financial backing of the Oskaloosa Water Board, who voted 2-0 to not proceed further with litigation. The legal fees for the Oskaloosa Water Department lawsuit to this point is $53,749.82. Oskaloosa Municipal Water Department Manager Chad Coon said that there are a few outstanding invoices to Dickinson Law Firm yet.

The City of Oskaloosa has spent an estimated $27,455.00 in legal fees in regards to Keltners removal. The City of Oskaloosa reports that not all invoices have yet been seen, and that amount is also expected to increase. Combined, the lawsuit cost the taxpayers and ratepayers of Oskaloosa $81,204.82 with outstanding invoices that will drive that final number even higher.

Oskaloosa Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt terminated Keltner as a Trustee by Order on March 5, 2014. In late April of 2014, Keltner was removed from his position on the Oskaloosa Water Board by a vote from the Oskaloosa City Council. Just days later, the Water Board voted to file a petition with the court to stop Keltner’s removal.

In the middle of May, a Eighth Judicial Judge Daniel Wilson ordered a stay in the removal of Keltner from the Water Board, until the City and Water Department squared off in court mid-July over the removal of Keltner. Eighth Judicial Judge Joel Yates then passed his verdict on the case, siding with the City of Oskaloosa, ending Keltner’s time on the board.

During the months of litigation, former Water Board Chairman Pete Settimi was not reappointed to a further 6-year term to the board by Mayor Krutzfeldt, who then appointed Jon Zobel to the position. He joins Joe Ryan as a Trustee on the Board. Ryan had voted against the petition that initially set the lawsuit in motion. Keltner and Settimi had voted in favor of moving forward with the lawsuit.

During this past week’s meeting Ryan, who is now board chairman, stated, “I’m just looking at the amount that spend [legal expenditures] and I realize that it’s not all spent in this reporting period. As we take a look at our budget, and comparing revenues and expenses, I think we need to be cognizant we may have to make some changes along the way to recoup this and to get our budget back in line.”

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