Polk County’s top administrator to resign as part of a six-figure deal

The Polk County administrative building in Des Moines. (Photo by Polk County)

Polk County Administrator Mark Wandro is leaving the county’s employment with a separation package that appears to include at least $106,000 in additional pay.

Wandro’s written “retirement agreement and release,” which is expected to be approved by the county board of supervisors on Tuesday, calls for him to leave employment on June 30, while continuing to collect his base pay and benefits through Jan. 1, 2021. Wandro’s annual salary in 2019 was $212,432.

Mark Wandro is Polk County administrator. (Photo courtesy of Polk County)

The agreement also calls for Wandro to collect severance pay in accordance with a county policy manual “as discussed with Wandro on June 17, 2020.” The written document doesn’t specify what the severance pay is, how much it totals or who participated in the June 17 discussion.

The retirement agreement also says Wandro is entitled to “all other benefits” contemplated in his employment agreement “as discussed with Wandro on June 17, 2020.” The nature and value of the benefits aren’t detailed in the agreement.

The Board of Supervisors met on June 17 with the staff, but with a one-item agenda: “COVID-19 & human resources policies.”

Wandro could not be reached for comment Friday.

Supervisor Matt McCoy said Friday that the agreement with Wandro is a “pretty standard retirement package with payout for his service and his banked vacation time and sick time and, you know, everything like that.”

As part of the agreement, the county — including the supervisors and all other elected officials — must pledge not to criticize Wandro or his job performance in any way that could be considered “degrading, belittling, deprecating, criticizing (or) discrediting.”

The agreement was signed Wednesday by Wandro and McCoy.

Wando has served as Polk County administrator since 2013. He previously worked for the Iowa Department of Transportation and served as assistant Polk County engineer for more than 10 years.

In 2018, the county enhanced the benefits plan for retiring administrators, with supervisors saying they did so at Wandro’s recommendation.

Clark Kauffman
Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.