December 31, 2020 Special City Council Meeting Minutes

A special meeting of the City Council of the City of International Falls, Minnesota was held in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building and via BlueJeans Conferencing on the 31st day of December, 2020 at the hour of 4:00 P.M.


MEMBERS PRESENT:               Councilors Briggs, Buller, Ditsch, Krause and Mayor Droba.

                                                           Media and public via BlueJeans Conferencing.  All members noted they could hear the others and the discussion.

MEMBERS ABSENT:                  None.

OTHERS PRESENT:                    City Administrator Ken Anderson, and City Attorney Steve Shermoen


DISCUSSION ABOUT CITY ATTORNEY and REAPPOINTED Steven M. Shermoen as City Attorney Mayor Droba opened the meeting looking to discuss the role of the City Attorney that is currently held by Steven M. Shermoen.  Mayor Droba noted that the new local District Court Judge is Jerrod Shermoen, the brother of City Attorney Shermoen, which precludes the local judge from overseeing City cases.

City Attorney Shermoen noted that he was seeking reappointment as City Attorney for a two-year term and was not looking to retire at the end of 2021 as originally planned.  City Attorney Shermoen stated the fact that his brother is now the District Court Judge will not make it more difficult for “City” cases to be heard in court.  Mr. Shermoen stated that Koochiching County Court Administration has already made arrangements for other judges to hear City cases.  Mr. Shermoen noted that remote meetings over platforms such as Zoom are becoming the new normal, and it makes it that much easier for judges from outside the area to hear these cases.

Mr. Shermoen noted he was appointed as the City Attorney in July 2010, and over the course of his time working on behalf of the City, seventy-eight percent (78%) of his City cases are criminal cases.  Mr. Shermoen noted the City’s interest in having an attorney on staff that has a background in Human Resources (HR) law.  Mr. Shermoen stated that while he is not an HR specialist, he feels he could fill that need and would seek advice from the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) when necessary.

Mayor Droba noted that the City already planned to transition the City Attorney role at the end of 2021 from Mr. Shermoen to an on-staff HR attorney, with monies budgeted for that in the 2021 budget.  Mayor Droba stressed that he believes it is vital to have an HR attorney to handle the issues that come up with a larger organization such as the City, as two City Councilors on the Human Resources Committee cannot make decisions and know the legal ramifications.

MOTION by Councilor Ditsch to reappoint Steven M. Shermoen as City Attorney for a two-year term, January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2022.  Motion seconded by Councilor Briggs.

Discussion ensued to clarify that by reappointing Mr. Shermoen to the City Attorney role, the City Council would be looking to him to fill the need and responsibility of handling Human Resources issues as well.  Mr. Shermoen noted that he makes the City his number one (#1) priority and will continue to do so going forward.

Motion carried unanimously.

CONVENE CLOSED MEETING Mayor Droba announced that the City Council would proceed into a closed meeting session with the above listed present in accordance with Minnesota Statute 13D.05, Subd. 2, (3) and/or 4 to discuss the City Administrator’s performance evaluation.  Mayor Droba asked City Administrator Anderson if he would like the meeting to be closed. City Administrator Anderson indicated he wanted the meeting to be closed to the public. MOTION by Councilor Krause to recess the open meeting and move to close the meeting at 4:27 P.M. Motion seconded by Councilor Ditsch and carried unanimously.
RECONVENE OPEN SESSION Mayor Droba reconvened the open session meeting at 6:15 P.M.  Mayor Droba shared that they would continue discussions with the City Administrator and reviewing the separation/performance evaluation, with more information to come at a future time.
ADJOURNMENT Mayor Droba adjourned the meeting at 6:16 P.M.

Harley M. Droba, Mayor


Kenneth R. Anderson, City Administrator

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