City officials confirm that contract agreement reached in months-long city administrator negotiations

Dustin Dassinger previously a rejected contract offers of $140,000, and in an email to Mayor Scott Decker and Commissioner John Odermann provided his expectations for compensation.

Interim City Administrator Dustin Dassinger during a previous Dickinson City Commission meeting.
Dickinson Press file photo
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DICKINSON — City officials say Interim City Administrator Dustin Dassinger, who has been serving in an interim capacity since the resignation of Brian Winningham in April, has reached an agreement with the city after a months-long contract negotiation.

In a special meeting scheduled for Friday, Sept. 16, at 7:30 a.m., Dassinger will officially become the newest city administrator, contingent upon the approval of the city commission.

Mayor Scott Decker was tasked with assembling a six member interview committee to score candidates for the position, in an effort aimed at representing the best interest of the community. Committee members included Mayor Decker, Commissioner John Odermann, City Attorney Christina Wenko, City HR Coordinator Shelly Nameniuk, Dickinson Public Schools Communications Director Sarah Trustem and Stark Development VP Ryan Jilek.

Mayor Scott Decker was tasked with assembling a six member interview committee to score candidates for the position of City Administrator.
Dickinson Press file photo

The committee interviewed only three of the eight applicants, which included Dassinger. Subsequently, the committee graded the candidates on a 0-100 scoring system — Trustem did not participate in the scoring process.

“When the committee met after we were done with the interviews we conducted, we scored everyone. I mean it was a significant difference in scoring. And Mr. Dassinger was head and shoulders above the other candidates,” Oderman said during a July 19 regular city commission meeting.


Dassinger received the following scores: Wenko 64, Oderman 64, Nameniuk 51, Decker 70 and Jilek 64. This computed to an average of 62.6. The other two interviewed candidates averaged 43.8 each.

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In an email to The Dickinson Press, Wenko provided the salaries at term for all city administrators who’ve served Dickinson over the past five years. Shawn Kessel had an annual salary of $150,300; Gaa was paid $125,000 and Winningham was paid $158,600.

Documents obtained by The Dickinson Press revealed that Dassinger had previously rejected one contract offer. The initial rejected offer provided for an annual salary of $140,000, with yearly increases.

On August 30, Dustin Dassinger sent an email to Mayor Scott Decker and Commissioner John Odermann outlining his compensation expectations. According to the emails, obtained by The Press, the expected salary included a base pay of $154,304, with a 4% increase on January 1, 2023 and a 2% annual raise predicated upon satisfactory performance reviews for each year thereafter.

“I have appreciated the opportunity that the city commission, and being a city employee, has provided to me and my family. I am not here to gouge the city or ask for the ‘Moon,’ but I do know the time commitment and what's needed to be a successful City Administrator for our community. This is not an easy job in our city, as you can ask our former CAs,” Dassinger stated in his email.

The email and subsequent rejected offer culminated in a tense exchange at the Sept. 6 meeting, when commissioners did not reach a decision after following a 90-minute executive session to discuss the contract.

A city official confirmed the two parties reached a compromise that priced the salary at $150,000, with 2% annual raises — which will be presented to the full commission Friday morning.

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Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in rural southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge.
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