SPICER -- The city of Spicer will begin advertising for candidates for its city administrator position while it negotiates a severance agreement with current City Administrator Andrea Aukrust.
City Attorney Barry Darval said the city is "continuing to move closer to a severance agreement with Ms. Aukrust" but "in the meantime, we have a need" to fill the position.
Aukrust has been on unpaid medical leave since Oct. 29, when she informed the city a doctor ordered her not to return to work. The city has yet to learn from Aukrust's physician when and if she can return to work. No information about her condition or the reason for her leave of absence has been made public.
Aukrust has threatened litigation against the city for unknown reasons while she has been absent.
The council has held two special closed meetings to discuss the situation.
Councilman Jerry Reierson said he had to ask Darval: "What is it that has taken so long?"
"The length of time is what has people wondering," Reierson said.
Spicer has been "waiting for a response from the other side," Darval said. He also indicated the city hoped to present a settlement to the council during its Feb. 11 meeting.
"... But there has to be a meeting of the minds, and at this point, there isn't," Darval said.
Darval said the council may need to schedule a special city meeting if the two parties come to a severance agreement before the next meeting.
The city did not specify whether Aukrust will return to work. According to the text of the council's motion, "no final action is being taken on Ms. Aukrust's employment."
"At this point, we are not taking a position" on whether Aukrust will return to work at the city office, Darval said. He added the city "has to be in a position to move forward."
Reierson commended everyone in the city office for an "exemplary job" through the recent circumstances and the negotiations.
"This runs credence that we're not being held hostage on this thing," Reierson said.
In previous city meetings, multiple discussions and agenda items have involved a transition plan for easing Aukrust back into her role at City Hall.
Aukrust has been Spicer's city administrator and director of the city's economic development authority since April 2008. Spicer's previous city administrator, Kimberly Wothe, resigned in February 2008 after 12 years of service.