Damakant Jayshi

Kronenwetter board members on Monday rescinded a previously approved employee severance agreement with former Village Administrator Richard Downey, but the reasons behind the decision are unclear.

Interim Village Administrator Duane Gau said the decision was announced in open session, though the decision was made in a closed session meeting. The board approved the severance agreement on July 19.

Downey, who appears to have joined the City of Altoona as their Assistant City Administrator, did not respond to requests for comment.

No Kronenwetter officials have explained the reasons behind the reversal.

The decision was one of two made in closed session on Monday.

Board President Chris Voll denied Downey was fired or was on leave. His clarification comes more than two weeks after local news outlets, including Wausau Pilot & Review, reported on the issue.

“Downey has been working remotely with Kronenwetter for the past month,” Voll told Wausau Pilot & Review. “He was not fired nor put on leave, as has been erroneously reported. He has accepted a position in Altoona and the village staff and board wish him well in his new role. The board rescinded the agreement and now are working toward the future.”

Voll declined to comment further, but added, “As more details can be released, we will.”

The board meeting was set to livestream on Zoom but was cut off a few minutes after the meeting’s scheduled time. Village Clerk Bobbi Jo Birk-LaBarge said the board went into two closed sessions and “when that happens I shut zoom off to assure it is confidential.”

The other closed session on Monday, held jointly with the Kronenwetter Redevelopment Authority, involved discussing and finalizing a settlement agreement with Stone Ridge Development, LLC, in a lawsuit filed against the village.

Unclear is the nature of dispute or why Stone Ridge Development filed the lawsuit., but resolutions passed by the Kronenwetter RDA and the Village Board on Monday make a brief reference to the breach of a development agreement with the group. The board’s resolution, a more detailed one, says the lawsuit “arose out of the Development Agreement with Stone Ridge Development, LLC for development contemplated under the Project Plan for the Village of Kronenwetter Tax Increment District No. 2 and involves claims asserting breach of that Development Agreement and amendments thereto.”

Both the RDA and the board termed the payment of the settlement obligation as a “financial obligation” that was “necessary and convenient” to the implementation of the project plan for Tax Increment District No. 2. The settlement will be paid as TID No. 2 “project costs.”

The two resolutions also said the settlement would “further the goals and purpose” of Kronenwetter TID No. 2. The board went a step further by saying “it is in the best interests of the Village of Kronenwetter to settle the pending lawsuit.”

The board resolution directs staff to provide notice to the Joint Review Board.

Voll said the approved settlement agreement with Stone Ridge Development “will now go to the other party for consideration. We will await notification from them before making additional comments.”

Interim Administrator Gau also shared some details.

“The settlement agreement came about through mediation process and the Village took the 1st action, it still needs go to the other party before it a complete settlement,” Gau told Wausau Pilot & Review when asked about the settlement amount.

Gau said the lawsuit was filed several years ago.

“Just know that a settlement agreement is hopefully coming to an end through a mediation process,” Gau said.