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Severance package approved for North Liberty’s former police chief

NORTH LIBERTY– North Liberty’s former police chief has accepted a severance package after his abrupt departure from the city’s employ Feb. 1.
The North Liberty City Council unanimously approved a resignation agreement between the city and former North Liberty Police Chief Jim Warkentin at the council’s Feb. 12 meeting. The agreement grants Warkentin $37,647.46 for severance pay, overtime and paid time off due as of his departure date of Feb. 1, as well as providing insurance benefits until March 31, 2013.
At the council meeting last week, North Liberty resident Jennifer Leavy questioned the council’s consideration of severance pay, whether Warkentin willingly resigned or was forced to leave his position.
“I’m wondering why there is talk about a severance package,” Leavy said. “If you quit a job, should you be allowed to continue to get a wage? And if you have been asked to leave, then shouldn’t there be mitigating circumstances that should not allow him to get that additional pay?”
Warkentin left his position on Feb. 1, but the city remained silent on the circumstances of his departure, only confirming that Warkentin was, “no longer en employee of the city,” said both city administrator Ryan Heiar and city attorney Scott Peterson. Warkentin does not have a listed phone number and has not been able to be reached for comment. On Feb. 6, Warkentin and the city released a mutual statement of resignation to the media.
Warkentin’s resignation agreement included a mutual release, stating that Warkentin would not make any formal claims or take any action against the city related to his employment or release, and would not file for state unemployment benefits. It also states the city releases Warkentin from any claims made against him relating to his employment. The agreement stipulates that the circumstances of Warkentin’s release and settlement are to remain confidential except to the extent required by law.
Warkentin, North Liberty’s first police officer, was hired in 1999. He had reached an annual pay level of $86,361.60.
Last Tuesday, Leavy’s request for the city to release details of Warkentin’s release only resulted in a brief comment from North Liberty Mayor Tom Salm.
“Jim Warkentin’s statement is that he left for personal reasons, and we will respect that,” said Mayor Tom Salm. “We wish him the best of luck.”