SPUC to begin investigating potential salary cap violation

Following a closed meeting Monday night, the Shakopee Public Utilities Commission (SPUC) voted unanimously to form an investigative team to look into whether Utilities Manager John Crooks’ yearly pay violates the state statute on local government salaries.

Crooks’ salary has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, with Minnesota House Rep. Brad Tabke, D-Shakopee, and City Administrator Bill Reynolds requesting a state auditor investigation into whether Crooks is being paid more than the state-mandated local government salary cap.

Public records obtained by The Shakopean show Utilities Manager John Crooks’ yearly pay is at least $200,000, though the state-mandated local government salary cap is set at a maximum of $178,782.

SPUC voted Monday to appoint Commissioners Mathew Meyer and Jody Brennan to an “informal investigative team.” Brennan also serves on the Shakopee City Council.

Meyer and Brennan will recommend a third-party investigator to the full commission, potentially as soon as Thursday, when SPUC will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. to continue discussing the salary cap matter. The meeting will be open to the public with call-in details available after Tuesday morning at www.spucweb.com.

In a March 10 interview with The Shakopean, Crooks said his yearly pay isn’t over the salary cap because the value of his vacation and sick allowance is subtracted from his gross pay for the purpose of the state statute.

SPUC President Deb Amundson wrote in an April 17 letter to the state auditor that “reasonable minds may differ as to how to interpret this statutory language” and asked for guidance in applying the salary cap statute.

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