The Eldridge city administrator has been placed on paid leave pending an investigation into a "confidential personnel matter," according to City Council member Bernie Peeters.
Lisa Kotter was hired to the position in March 2020, and had previously been city administrator in Moline and Geneseo.
The Eldridge City Council held an emergency meeting Friday afternoon to decide who will replace Kotter on an interim basis and to allocate funds to hire an independent investigator.
"Since she (Kotter) was on the accused end of the situation, standard procedure is that there is separation until the issue is resolved," Peeters said.
The council chose John Dowd, retired city administrator, to fill in. He will work part-time and only be in charge of specific things.
Peeters, whom the council asked to take charge of this situation, said Dowd didn't want to be involved in policy-making.
He will be paid an hourly wage based on Kotter's salary, $111,925, or about $53.81 per hour for a full-time employee. The council also took into account Kotter's benefits, which Dowd won't receive, and decided to pay Dowd $65 per hour.
"The city is functioning 100% as usual, with the exception that Lisa is out of the office. The mayor, the council, all the departments, the staff, are running Eldridge 100% as normal, and we anticipate no changes in that down the line," Peeters said. "We have excellent people all the way around, and even though the circumstances are unusual, the citizens of Eldridge, as always, can count on the city to be working in their best interest.”
The council also authorized Peeters to suggest, based on the recommendation of the city attorney, an independent investigator to take on the incident, at a cost of no more than $5,000.
Council members said the investigator should have no connection to council members and be recommended by someone outside the council, to avoid any bias.
"People on this council are definitely against Lisa and would like to see her gone," City Council member Bruce Cheek said during the meeting.
Peeters said the city attorney had recommended someone, and the council agreed to move forward. Peeters said Kotter previously agreed the recommended investigator was sufficiently distant from all parties.
The council also decided that Peeters won't disclose the identity of the investigator publicly or to the other council members until the investigation is complete, at which point the name will be revealed in a confidential report.
"We cannot assume there's any guilt with Ms. Kotter," council member Brian Dockery said during the meeting. "I don't need to know who (the investigator) is. I don't know if any of the other council members need to know who it is until it's all done."
Kotter could not be reached for comment.
Kotter served in Moline for five months in 2019 before being forced to resign. She was hired as an interim city administrator in Riverdale, Iowa, before being hired in Eldridge. She previously spent four years as administrator for Geneseo, Illinois. In April 2018, Geneseo residents circulated petitions seeking her ouster, but the mayor and city council stood by her.