MADISON, Neb. -- After back-and-forth conversations between council members and family members of former utilities superintendent Jim Lewis, Madison City Council voted 2-1 in favor of paying out Lewis’ contract with the city.

Two of Lewis’ daughters, Kelsey Smith and Abbie Freudenburg, approached the council with a grievance about confusion surrounding Lewis’ suspension without pay during the Dec. 13 city council meeting.

“As I stated, Mr. [Rick] Schommer we would like my dad to be paid in full from Dec. 13 until the day of his death Jan. 10, 2024," Smith said.

At that meeting, Lewis was suspended without pay following an executive session but City Attorney Mike Brogan says the minutes did not state this.

“My understanding was that he was to be remaining on as an at-will employee," Brogan said. "Not in the leadership role, but he would be administratively suspended without pay. I went back to look at the minutes and it was not there.”

Brogan said the council was able to make the correction to the minutes in view of the public with a vote and should have been more clear on the vote during the meeting.

In addition to pay, Lewis' daughters wanted to know what the life insurance policy would be in this case. They also alleged the City violated the Open Meetings Act in their dealings with Lewis, an assertion that at least one council member - Paul Kellen - appeared to acknowledge.

But the council also stated they would have to contact their insurance company and prove there was a miscommunication before further action could be taken.

The council voted 2-1 in favor of making the correction in the minutes and pay out Lewis’ contract from Dec. 13 to Jan. 10 with council member Paul Kellen voting no.

“We have to have a legal justification to spend the money, so if you think that’s a legal justification because that’s what we’re going to do is spend this money," Kellen said. "That’s your vote, you’ve earned that right to vote.”

Other concerns were raised about an alleged social media post on a city page, conflict of interest, and council conduct with media; but Smith and Freudenburg said they just want the entire confusion to be resolved.