Wapello County Attorney's resignation on supervisor's agenda

Mar. 25—OTTUMWA — The Wapello County Board of Supervisors will accept the resignation of county attorney Reuben Neff during Tuesday's meeting at the courthouse.

Neff, who won election to his role in 2018 and was re-elected in 2022, will be taking a position with a private firm, according to the resignation letter he submitted to the county. His resignation will be effective at the end of the day on March 29.

After accepting the resignation, the supervisors will then determine how to fill the vacancy. By law, the supervisors can appoint someone to the role, but must do so within 40 days, and can keep that person in place until the November election.

If the county chooses to appoint someone, the public has 14 days after the appointment to circulate a petition calling for a special election, which is the most costly option.

"Throughout my career, I sought to give voice to the voiceless," he said in his letter. "Up until now, I spent my entire legal career serving the public's interest. However, to better attend to my family's needs, I accepted a position with a private firm."

Last year, Neff appealed a disciplinary ruling from the Iowa Attorney Discipline Commission, which believed Neff created a hostile working environment in his office, including comments he made about various judges.

Neff appealed a recommended 60-day suspension to the Iowa Supreme Court, but there has been no decision.

Prior to becoming an elected official, Neff was the assistant county attorney from May of 2017 to August 2018, when he first ran for office. Prior to that, he practiced law in Florida.

In other business:

— The supervisors will approve the secondary roads department's fiscal year 2025 budget. The big-budget item for the next year will be multiple projects on 87th Street from County T61 to U.S. Highway 34, a distance of about 9 1/2 miles. That project includes a pavement overlay and culvert replacement and extension.

The meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. in the third-floor courtroom/board room of the courthouse.

Ottumwa City Council

The council will meet for a work session Tuesday at the Amtrak Depot to discuss possible changes to some of the City of Ottumwa's commissions. The council has sought a more consistent approach, and is suggesting four-year staggered terms for commissions, with commission members only serving two terms unless there is no interest in others serving.

The council will also discuss local option sales tax ballot language and other revenue options for the city.

The current 10-year term for the local option sales tax ends Dec. 31, 2025, but city staff has recommended a measure be placed on a special election ballot in September. Currently, 90% of sales tax goes toward street improvements, with the remaining 10% toward property tax relief. The city could craft wording to be more specific under the "street improvements."

The city also wants the council to consider if the sales tax should be permanently instituted.

There also has been discussion of raising the franchise fee for gas and electric utilities a maximum of 1%, which could create an additional $466,000.

The city has cited House File 718, which was signed into law last year, as the main reason for seeking additional revenue. The bill clawed back a percentage of valuation growth, and has forced cities to consolidate several levies into the general fund. Currently, the city is expected to lose about $250,000 per year because of the bill.

The work session begins at 5:30 p.m. and will be held in Room 8B at the depot. No actions will be taken.

— Chad Drury can be reached at cdrury@ottumwacourier.com, and on Twitter @ChadDrury