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Contract negotiations continue, Dassinger asks for immediate decision

A tense conclusion to Tuesday’s City Commission meeting occurred following an executive session aimed at negotiating the contract of Interim City Administrator Dustin Dassinger.

Dassinger and Wenko
Dickinson City Attorney Christina Wenko and Interim City Administrator Dustin Dassinger.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — Tensions rose on Tuesday evening as Mayor Scott Decker and Interim City Administrator Dustin Dassinger addressed the issue of a seemingly stalled contract negotiation during a regular city commission meeting.

Approximately one hour and 22 minutes into the meeting, commissioners entered a closed executive session to discuss ongoing contract negotiations with Dassinger. Dassinger, who remains the official Dickinson Police Chief, has been serving as Interim City Administrator since the resignation of Brian Winningham in April.

The city considered eight applicants for the position, but only interviewed three which included Dassinger — who was formally offered the position in late July. Since the offer, Dassinger and the city have thus far been unable to reach an agreement on compensation.

Coming out of the executive session commissioners made no mention of the issue and were poised to conclude the meeting until Dassinger pressed for an answer and pointed to his performance over the previous six months in the role. He noted that he’s already led the on-boarding of the new city engineer and wanted to know where he stood as long-term pressing matters in both of his official/unofficial roles loom. Dassinger said he anticipates other high level posts needing to be filled within the next five years, noting that the deputy administrator and public works director were among them.

“It's been a lot of work to do… I think I've made some progress in a few areas in the last six months, I came from a very strong team at the police department where, I spent the last 11 years building that team, and that still needs to continue building. City Hall has very good people here but there's a team that needs to be built onto as well,” Dassinger said. “We can keep going back and forth all we want to as far as a contract. I think what I asked for is fair. I’ve had a lot of people telling me to stay strong with this.”

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Dassinger emphasized that continuing the status quo has created issues for staff at both the police department and city hall, each being “stuck in limbo” without permanent leadership at the helm.

“I’m ready for a decision. I need to know where to put my energy. I am requesting that a decision be made, a request that I emailed today to President Decker and Vice President Odermann,” Dassinger said.

Decker responded that, “they are aware” of the request. City Attorney Christina Wenko acknowledged the urgency of the situation, but suggested that negotiations be continued between Decker and Dassinger at some point over the next two days.

“I can go back there right now. I can bring our proposal to him,” Decker said.

Wenko advised against holding a meeting on the matter following the meeting and suggested it would be too informal. She floated the possibility of a special meeting, but no decision was made and Decker requested a motion to adjourn the meeting.

The motion was provided by Commissioner Suzy Sobolik and seconded by Commissioner Jason Fridrich.

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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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