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A surprise in Afton: council ousts city admnistrator

To the surprise of many, including two council members, the Afton City Council this week voted to discontinue its contract with City Administrator Sara Irvine, effective immediately.

During Tuesdsay's meeting, the Afton Personnel Committee, made up of council members Peg Nolz, Joe Richter and Mayor Pat Snyder, presented an agreement outlining the end Irvine's employment.

The agreement passed with a 3-2 vote, with council members Bill Palmquist and Randy Nelson dissenting.

Irvine did not comment during the meeting.

The agreement, which was agreed upon by both Irvine and the Personnel Committee, does not state any specifics on the agreement cancelation.

The proposed agreement was presented to the surprise of Palmquist and Nelson who stated they were completely caught off guard as to why Irvine was leaving.

"I thought the one thing we worked very hard on was continuity," Palmquist said. "I'm caught off guard quite a bit.

"You negotiated an agreement before we knew anything."

Nelson questioned what the reasons were for the agreement and City Attorney Fritz Knaak advised that those discussions were not appropriate for a public forum. However, Knaak did say the agreement was not drafted for a cause.

The agreement that the council outlined said the decision was mutual, the city would draft a positive letter of recommendation for Irvine, Irvine would be paid three months of salary and she will receive compensation for vacation time and personal time accrued at a maximum of 128 hours.

"I think it's a fair agreement, I think it's in the best interest of the city," Snyder said, "and Sara feels that it is in her best interest."

Since Irvine's departure was effective immediately, the council voted to contact the city's former interim city administrator, and government affairs consultant, Ron Moorse to see if he would be interested in filling the position.

"It would be nice to get someone in here as soon as possible," Richter said.

The council is hoping to meet on Monday to discuss its interim administrator position.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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