MOLINE — Former City Administrator Lisa Kotter was forced to resign on Sunday, contrary to statements by city officials that she willingly quit the job, according to three people with knowledge about the situation.
Kotter submitted her resignation after she returned from a three-day Illinois Municipal League conference in Chicago.
Kotter, whose first day on the job was April 29, served less than five months. She formerly served as city administrator of Geneseo.
Kotter is the sixth high-level Moline official to leave a job with the city since January.
Former City Administrator Doug Maxeiner resigned suddenly Jan. 22. Planning and Development Director Ray Forsythe resigned April 10. Finance Director Kathy Carr resigned April 12, and City Attorney Maureen Riggs and Deputy City Attorney Amy Keys both resigned May 3.
The three people who said Kotter was forced to resign spoke on the condition of anonymity.
City council members approved a separation agreement with Kotter during Tuesday night's regular council meeting and approved appointing Public Works Director J.D. Schulte as interim administrator. Schulte will receive an additional 10% on top of his current salary as compensation for the extra duties until a new administrator is hired.
Council members who did not return calls seeking comment on Wednesday were Ald. Scott Williams, Ward 1; Ald. Mike Wendt, Ward 3; Ald. Dick Potter, Ward 4; Ald. Sam Moyer, Ward 5; Ald. Michael Waldron, Ward 7; and Ald. Sonia Berg, at large.
Ald. Kevin Schoonmaker, Ward 6, returned a call but declined to comment.
"I wish her the best of luck in the future," Ald. David Parker, Ward 2, said.
Mayor Stephanie Acri declined to comment.
"I'm not going to comment on any personnel issues," Acri said. "I would question your sources."
CITY OFFICIALS CALLED FOR TRANSPARENCY
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Council members called for transparency in February when they overrode a denial of a Freedom of Information Act request from the Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.com seeking emails after Maxeiner was forced to resign Jan. 22.
"One of the things that's important to me as an elected official is to be as transparent as I can to the community that we’re representing so they understand the processes we go through," Acri said during the Feb. 12 council meeting. "If they want to understand better what is happening behind the scenes, then we should share that information with them."
Kotter attended Tuesday's city council meeting, walking in after the meeting was underway. Council members voted to enter closed session before approving Kotter's separation agreement.
During the nearly hourlong closed session, Kotter interacted with other staff members in a conference room. Many hugged her, wished her well, and asked how she is doing.
Kotter told a Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.com reporter she does not have another job lined up.
As part of Kotter's employment contract, she agreed to move to Moline from Geneseo within six months of her April 29 start date. Kotter said she bought a house in Moline in July. She closed on the property July 31 and moved in Aug. 3.
"Now I'll have to sell it," she said. "I'll just put a sign in my yard.
"I truly enjoy my role as a public servant and serving as a city administrator," Kotter said. "I've enjoyed my time here in Moline. I look forward to the potential to work in another community here in Illinois."
As part of her separation agreement, Kotter will receive two months of her $175,000 annual salary and a portion of health insurance through Dec. 1. She also will receive any accrued and unused sick leave and vacation time in a lump sum.
In return, Kotter will release the city from any liability and claims and waive her right to file any court action. She will agree not to seek employment with the city in the future, and she will refrain from making disparaging or derogatory comments about Moline or its elected officials.
Kotter's right to seek claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act is not waived, and she has seven days to revoke the five-page agreement if she decides she doesn't want to abide by any of the terms.