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Separation agreements reached with former planning and zoning staff

The Crosslake City Council unanimously approved separation agreements Monday night, Jan. 13, with the two planning and zoning staff members it terminated last September. In total, the city paid out $45,185.84 between the two severance packages, not counting attorney’s fees.

Both former city employees, Ken Anderson and Bryan Hargrave, entered into separation agreements with the city in which neither party admits to wrongdoing. The city’s labor attorney, Steven Fecker, negotiated on behalf of the city.

When the decision was made to terminate the two employees Sept. 24, both were put on 30 days of paid administrative leave.

The council chose to terminate the employees in favor of hiring Crow Wing County to provide contract planning and zoning services to the city.

In addition to the 30 days pay, Anderson will be paid additional severance in the amount of $27,141.84, making the total severance paid to Anderson equal to six months’ pay, or $35,366.64.

In return, Anderson waives and releases all claims against the city which he is legally able to waive, including any claims under the Veterans’ Preference Act.

Hargrave, a member of the AFSCME Council 64 union, will be paid $5,000 severance in addition to the 30 working days’ pay he was given in September, totaling in all $9,819.20.

Hargrave also waives and releases any and all claims he is legally able to waive against the city.

All five council members agreed to the separation agreements with Hargrave and Anderson unanimously by roll-call vote.

Hargrave and Anderson were also paid out any unused vacation and sick leave.

Council member Mark Wessels asked, “Are we setting a precedent that any time someone leaves that we’re paying them large sums of money?”

City attorney Brad Person said that every fact pattern for an agreement is different, and just because the council enters into this one, it doesn’t mean another one will be the same.

City finance director/treasurer Michael Lyonais said that not all bills had been received for the work Fecker did on the city’s behalf. Records of bills paid to Fecker since October show the city has paid his firm $20,248, however, Lyonais noted that Fecker does other work for the city besides the negotiations with Hargrave and Anderson, which is included in those bills.

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