Keokuk City Administrator Aaron Burnett has reached a preliminary agreement to become the next city administrator in Mason City, Iowa. Burnett said pending approval by the Mason City City Council, his last day on the job in Keokuk will be June 22.
Burnett said he informed city leaders and staff in Keokuk of his decision Monday morning, prior to Mason City issuing a statement announcing his selection on its website.
Burnett took over as Keokuk City Administrator in November 2015. He was just the second person to hold that position.
“I have great ties with Keokuk, with the elected officials, community leaders, and the staff," Burnett said. "It has been an absolutely wonderful experience working for Keokuk.”
Burnett said he was not looking for a new job. Instead, he was contacted by several people about the job in Mason City.
“It was a great opportunity to take the position in Mason City and work for a little larger community,” said Burnett. “Hopefully I am able to bring the positive momentum to that community and assist them too.”
Burnett was named the Iowa City/County Management Association Manager of the Year in 2017, which Mason City cited in announcing the preliminary agreement.
Burnett said he will use his final eight weeks in Keokuk to work on unfinished projects, to help the city council select his replacement, and to prepare his office for the transition.
“There’s an advantage to me sitting in the seat and guiding them through the process,” said Burnett. “I think it’s best that we start the process early, I provide as much input as possible from sitting in this seat and serving in this capacity. I think I have some good insight into the sort of qualities they should probably look at in their next administrator. [We can also] try to do some outreach and see if we can recruit some people to be interested and apply for this position. I really want this community to be on the best footing as I leave to continue the great work we have done here.”
A priority of Burnett’s while in Keokuk has been to address blight and run-down buildings. He said he’s hopeful city leaders continue that after his departure.
“Building up neighborhoods, improving quality housing -- just that real focus on nuisance abatement, making Keokuk as attractive as possible for new investment, and also getting rid of those things that really bring a black eye to the community,” said Burnett. “I think that’s important to stay on that path. I know the city council is behind it and the community is behind it.”
Burnett said it’s up to the Keokuk City Council to decide whether to hire a search firm to help identify potential candidates to replace him. He expects those discussions to begin soon, once he is able to provide the city council with various options they could employ.
The Mason City City Council has scheduled a special meeting for Thursday, April 12 to consider Burnett’s appointment. He said he plans to attend the meeting.
If approved, Burnett said he will submit his official letter of resignation on Friday.