FARGO — Fargo's Park Board complied on Tuesday, Aug. 20, with a ruling by North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and updated minutes from a special meeting on July 2 where former park district executive director Joel Vettel's resignation was accepted and a separation agreement was approved.
Stenehjem found that the board broke the state's open meetings law by not giving proper, detailed notice of what would be discussed at the July 2 meeting. His finding came in response to The Forum asking him to weigh in on the matter.
On Tuesday, the five-member board approved minutes with more detail of the July 2 meeting, where they also appointed deputy executive director Dave Leker as interim executive director.
Although the exact reasons for Vettel's resignation weren't discussed or specifically stated, The Forum submitted a public records request and obtained copies of a job review that wasn't as favorable for 2018 as it was for 2017.
The July 2 meeting minutes were changed to reflect that "some commissioners noted that Mr. Vettel gave his best efforts to perform the duties of the executive director and that it was unfortunate that he was not a good fit for the position."
Commissioner Vicki Dawson wanted the wording changed to reflect "some" commissioners instead of "the commissioners."
Vettel submitted his resignation before the July 2 meeting so the amended minutes state the board thought it was appropriate to "move forward."
Also in the amended minutes, it was added that Dawson asked whether it was "appropriate to provide a separation package that went outside of the scope of Mr. Vettel's employment agreement" from the beginning of the year.
The commissioners determined that the "closest applicable term" to the circumstances of Vettel's employment was that the board was "terminating (his) employment without cause which called for him to receive a salary for a period of six months," according to the new minutes.
Under the separation agreement, Vettel is receiving about half of his annual salary or $75,000 through Dec. 31, plus medical insurance at about $1,180 a month and retirement benefits at about $1,100 a month.