AAA  Mar. 10, 2017 11:59 PM ET
City council bids administrator goodbye, looks for replacement
Jamie Lund, The Pine Journal, Cloquet, Minn. (TNS)
Tribune Content Agency, LLC
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Most of the discussion at Tuesday night's regular Cloquet City Council meeting centered around the resignation of City Administrator Brian Fritsinger.

Fritsinger announced his resignation at the last council meeting effective March 17.

The search for a new replacement will likely last up to six months.

On Tuesday night, Councilors voted to appoint James Barclay, assistant city administrator/HR director as acting city administrator until a replacement has been found.

Mayor Dave Hallback and At-large Councilor Adam Bailey met with Barclay earlier to discuss his interest and details of the arrangement.

Barclay's acting administrator position is temporary. The city will pay Barclay $10,000 pro-rated annually during the time as interim city administrator. The payments will end with the employment of a new city administrator.

Ward 2 council member Dave Bjerkness voiced concern over Fritsinger leaving.

"We relied on Brian to keep us on task and out of trouble," Bjerkness said. "We need to have our attorney attend meetings to keep us from getting in trouble."

In other council news, Todd Hagen, vice president/senior municipal advisor of Ehlers, Inc. presented the council with a pre-sale report of $8,400,000 general obligation sales tax revenue bonds, series 2017A.

The sale of the bonds will help pay for several public improvements including Broadway Street overlay and streetscape, $1 million; Dunlap Island Redevelopment at $2.7 million; Cloquet Avenue streetscape, priced at $2 million; Pine Valley Park and facility improvements at $1,150,000; the skate park construction with a cost of $350,000; and landscaping, frontage road and other miscellaneous improvements at $350,000.

The action voted on Tuesday night was to consider the pre-sale of the bonds. The city staff will work with Ehlers on a review of the city's bond rating and competitive bids. They anticipate the review of bids and final sale will take place April 4.

Hagen also praised Fritsinger and told him he enjoyed working with him over the years. "It's been great to work with Brian," Hagen said. "He's very responsive, knows what he's doing and thinks outside the box."

Fritsinger smiled and looked down modestly.

When Hagen was done, Fritsinger thanked the city council for working with him over the years.

"It has been an awesome opportunity for me to serve the community and serve with the staff here," Fritsinger said. Fritsinger mentioned the retired city council members and how much they taught him when he began the job.

He told about his children's experience with his profession, causing laughter from everyone in the room. The kids had asked what their dad did and attended a council meeting to see for themselves. After the meeting they told him it was the most boring stuff they had heard and they were never coming back to another meeting again.

Several council members also thanked Fritsinger for his 18 years of service, great work ethic, outstanding service,his thoroughness at his job and his attention to detail.

Bjerkness, who has been on the city council for 17 years, thanked him for his years of service as well as his friendship.

Fritsinger looked a little uncomfortable at the praise coming from all directions.

Nancy Klassen, finance director, smiled as she told Fritsinger that he was sharp, dedicated and highly ethical as well as the best boss she had ever had.

"It's been a good ride and I've enjoyed every minute of it," said Fritsinger. "It's been a great home for us and I would like to thank everyone including the council and the community."

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©2017 The Pine Journal (Cloquet, Minn.)

Visit The Pine Journal (Cloquet, Minn.) at www.pinejournal.com

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