SPUC to hold special meeting Tuesday

The Shakopee Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday will hold a special meeting to discuss recent questions about SPU administrators’ yearly pay.

The meeting will be held virtually at 5 p.m. Tuesday, and the public is able to listen by calling 1-(408)-418-9388 and entering access code 620 627 657.

SPUC President Deb Amundson called the meeting in regards to a letter she sent Friday to the state auditor, along with a letter City Administrator Bill Reynolds sent Thursday to the state auditor and attorney general in which he requested an investigation into SPU salaries and expressed other concerns about open meeting law compliance.

A report by The Shakopean on Wednesday cited public records indicating Utilities Manager John Crooks’ yearly pay exceeds the state-mandated local government salary cap by more than $21,000. Crooks denied ever exceeding the salary cap, citing the state statute that excludes vacation and sick leave allowances from factoring into an employee’s total compensation. Read the statute (Section 43 A.17, subdivision 9) here

Amundson’s letter to the state auditor asks for guidance so SPU can ensure it is complying with the law.

“In good faith, the Utility has applied this subdivision (in state statute) by subtracting the value of vacation and sick leave and similar items from the determination of an employee’s total compensation,” Amundson wrote. “Because reasonable minds may differ as to how to interpet this statutory language, and because the Office of the State Auditor is well versed in applying this statute, I ask for your guidance.”

Amundson included in her letter the following breakdown of Crooks’ 2019 salary and how it was calculated for the purpose of the salary cap statute (the salary cap in 2019 was $175,621):

Crooks’ 2020 contract with a gross salary of $200,000 was approved Feb. 3 by the commission. To view the contract in its entirety, click here.

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