Change could be on the horizon for the Des Moines River dams downtown. The Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization is developing a proposal and wants to know what you can imagine for the Des Moines River.
Kelsey Kremer/The Register

A work contract for the director of the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization was pulled from consideration this week after members of the group’s executive committee raised concerns with portions of the agreement.

Todd Ashby has worked for the regional transportation agency for six years, but this is the first time the group’s leadership has considered a contract including a severance clause. It would provide Ashby with six months’ salary if his contract were terminated. 

That didn’t sit well with some members of the seven-member executive committee, made up of local elected officials. 

“The state Legislature just passed a bill that took away contractual rights for tens of thousands of public sector employees across this state,” Polk County Supervisor Tom Hockensmith said. “It’s hypocritical as hell for us to sit here and talk about an employment contract for someone when tens of thousands of public sector employees just lost their contract.”

That legislation signed by then-Gov. Terry Branstad limits most public-sector union contract negotiations to base wages. It bans unions from negotiating for items such as health insurance, evaluation procedures, staff reduction and leaves of absence for political purposes.

The contract would have paid Ashby an annual salary of $130,695, a 3.5 percent increase from last year. It included a $600-a-month automobile allowance, a 12.5 percent retirement match and the six-month severance package. 

Des Moines City Councilman Chris Coleman said the contract would leave local governments on the…