County unsure of how Mt. Union will pay damages owed to former mayor, clerk

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


The state of Iowa wants Henry County to make the unincorporated city of Mt. Union a separate tax-district as a potential way to pay former Mayor Dan Johnson and his sister Linda Johnson damages owed them.

Dan and Linda Johnson won $105,000 in their defamation case against the unincorporated town after suing the city for harassment experienced over the last six years after allegations were made against them for stealing funds from the town. During the hearing, Dan testified to defamation of character after verbal harassment and accusations of criminal activity that began in January 2010. None of the accusations have been corroborated.

?I don?t know how this money is going to be paid from that judgment because the city is no more and they do not have enough money left over,? Henry County Auditor Shelly Barber said.

Barber said the money left over in the city does not even begin to pay what is owed to the Johnsons. She said in a normal situation, with a town still incorporated, ?everything would have been taken care of? with town insurance covering the cost of the lawsuit. She hopes that the town can go back on the insurance they had at the time the lawsuit was filed, but the town has to be prepared to pay. Insurance on the town ended in March of this year.

?I don?t know what they are going to do,? Barber said. ?So if I have to tax them to collect this money, I have them divided so I can do that and not throw them in with the rest of the [county],? she elaborated, explaining how a separate tax district is necessary for the citizens of former Mt. Union to pay for the judgment.

Court Attorney Darin Stater has written to the Attorney General for an opinion on how the county should move forward.