Blue Earth seeks new leader

BLUE EARTH – Blue Earth City Council voted Monday to work with South Central Service Cooperative to find a new city administrator.

Wendell Sande, shared services coordinator, explained how the co-op can help following the resignation of Kathy Bailey. Sande said that since Blue Earth is a member of the co-op, it is entitled to the services.

The first thing Sande wants to do is meet with each council member to find out what the council wants and needs in the next administrator. Those meetings will be set soon.

After the council authorizes a search to begin, it will take about 90 days, Sande estimated.

In related business, the council voted to allow Mayor Rick Scholtes to negotiate with Todd Bodem of Big Lake to serve as interim administrator, based on Sande’s suggestion.

“We need somebody,” said Scholtes, displaying a stack of papers related to city business he has been trying to tackle.

On another topic, the council passed an ordinance to amend the compensation of elected city officials.

Council members will receive $3,000 annually while the mayor will receive $4,800. That is an increase of $25 monthly for council members and $150 monthly for the mayor.

“I think we should leave it the way it is,” said Councilman John Gartzke. “If we’re in it for the money, we’re in it for the wrong reason.”

“When I started, we had a mileage stipend; that went away,” said Councilman Glenn Gaylord, noting that council members drive all around the city to check on things. “We haven’t had a raise in four terms. This gets us back to where we were.”

In the end, the salary hike passed 5-2, with Gartzke and Dan Brod dissenting.

The council also held three closed sessions.

The first was attended by Patricia Beety, an attorney for the city from the League of Minnesota Cities.

When the meeting resumed, she explained there has been a claim made by a former employee and an agreement was reached between the city and the former employee.

The council voted to approve terms of the agreement.

City officials would not identify the former employee and directed media to fill out data request forms for the agreement.

The second closed session was to discuss the status of police officer Chad Bonin, who was placed on paid administrative leave in May.

No action was taken by the council when the meeting resumed.

The third closed session was to discuss a proposed purchase agreement for land.

When the council came back into open session, it was disclosed that the agreement is with Nextera Properties regarding four lots in the North Industrial Park.

The council had previously approved the agreement, which had been returned by Nextera with some changes. The council approved the agreement with the changes.