West Fargo City Administrator Tina Fisk resigns
Fisk submitted her resignation Wednesday, March 15, but the details of her departure are not yet public.
WEST FARGO — Longtime City Administrator Tina Fisk abruptly resigned from her position Wednesday, March 15.
The reason for her exit has not been disclosed, and her resignation is effective immediately.
The West Fargo City Commission is expected to accept Fisk's resignation at its regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 20. They will also discuss the next steps in the process to replace her.
Fisk did not return a call from The Forum on Wednesday. She sent an email to all at City Hall and the West Fargo Fire Department.
"I want to take this moment to thank each and every one of you for all you do and have done for the City of West Fargo," Fisk wrote. "It has been my pleasure working along side each and every one of you. West Fargo is an amazing City and you are the reason why."
Fisk concluded the email by saying the City Commission would approve her resignation Monday but in the meantime asked all city staff "to not talk with the press."
The Forum requested a copy of Fisk's resignation letter, but City Communications Specialist Rachel Richter Lordemann said the letter was forwarded to city attorneys for potential redaction. It had not been returned as of Wednesday evening.
Mayor Bernie Dardis said Fisk cited a couple issues she experienced during her tenure in her resignation letter that made her feel like it was time to part ways with the city. He declined to elaborate on those issues prior to release of her resignation letter.
Dardis said her expertise and financial knowledge will be missed.
"It's a loss for the city with her institutional knowledge and the like," he said. "I worked directly with her a lot and her expertise was very valued."
He added that Fisk quickly brought him up to speed on the city workings when he was first elected in 2018, and she was always ready with historical background of the city when needed.
The city administrator supervises all city departments including police and fire chiefs. The City Commission is the administrator's direct supervisor. The administrator is responsible for presenting the city budget to the City Commission and providing recommendations to hire department heads.
At the West Fargo City Commission's March 6 meeting, the commission directed staff to write a policy reinstating annual performance reviews for all employees. Commissioner Mark Simmons said the annual reviews had been part of city process in the past but had not been done since around 2018.
The cities of Fargo and Moorhead both require annual performance reviews, including for the city administrator or manager. The West Fargo School Board held its annual open review of Superintendent Beth Slette on Monday, March 13.
Fisk last received a performance review in February 2015, when she served as the city's finance director. She was named city administrator later that year after longtime manager Jim Brownlee retired.
She came to West Fargo as the finance director in 2012 after serving 16 years as auditor/assessor for the city of Landgon and helping numerous other cities with special projects. A Langdon, North Dakota, native, Fisk graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1988 with a degree in accounting.
After college, she worked as a restaurant accountant before moving back to Langdon to become a bookkeeper for Cargill elevator. She later started her own business doing financial statements and other business-related tasks for business clients.
Tension with commission
While city commissioners were unable to state a reason for Fisk's abrupt departure Wednesday, tension was evident between Fisk and the commission.
In October, Simmons suggested the commission consider a reprimand of Fisk after she abruptly left the commission chambers during a meeting. Her departure followed Simmons' amendment that shaved five items off her proposed 2023 budget, totaling around $209,500 or about 1 mill.
She was followed out by Human Resources Director Jenna Wilm who later said she left in support of Fisk.
Assistant City Administrator Dustin Scott was left to offer the administrator's report at that meeting, a duty Fisk regularly performed.
"There is no push to terminate the city administrator," Simmons said at the time, but he suggested the commission consider reprimanding Fisk for her actions.
Fisk explained her behavior at the following commission meeting, but she did not apologize.
"The presentation of the changes to the budget caught me totally off guard," Fisk said. "I felt that the items removed targeted staff and took away opportunities that would affect the majority, if not all, of our employees and affect morale. The tone of the meeting was extremely uncomfortable, and I felt it was in my best interest to leave the meeting at that point."