SPUC to vote on Crooks’ separation agreement Tuesday

The Shakopee Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the term sheet Thursday for the proposed separation agreement with Utilities Manager John Crooks.

The commission will not vote on the separation agreement itself until its next meeting on Sept. 8. If approved, Crooks will resign effective immediately.

The proposed agreement comes after an investigative report found Crooks exceeded the state-mandated salary cap from 2017-2019 and was on track to exceed it again in 2020.

The salary cap is set by the Minnesota Legislature to be equal to 110 percent of the governor’s salary. For the year 2020, the cap is $178,782Public records show Crooks’s 2020 salary is at least $200,000.

As part of the proposed separation agreement, Crooks must repay Shakopee Public Utilities for his salary overages from 2017-2019. The commission has an independent auditor determining the exact amount of repayment. Per the proposed agreement, Crooks must repay SPU in three installments before Dec. 30, 2020.

The separation agreement term sheet also includes:

  • A two-way non-disparagement agreement stating the commissioners and Crooks agree not to disparage the other verbally or in writing
  • A provision for SPUC to pay monthly COBRA premiums for Crooks through March 2021
  • A provision that the investigative report conducted by a third-party attorney will be released publicly without redactions after Crooks’ resignation date
  • Both parties will cooperate with PERA to make potential adjustments to Crooks’ retirement contributions for 2017-2020
  • A provision stating the commissioners will refer to the conclusion of Crooks’ employment as his “retirement”

Crooks is also under investigation by the Shakopee Police Department for the salary issues. Police Chief Jeff Tate would not comment beyond confirming the department received a complaint and is “gathering information.”

Interim Leadership

The commission also discussed interim leadership options in preparation for Crooks’ resignation. By a vote of 4-1, with Commissioner Jody Brennan dissenting, the commission opted to begin discussions with a retired Rochester Public Utilities Manager to potentially fill the role temporarily.

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