Montevideo city council wants succession plan, holds closed meeting over city manager

MONTEVIDEO - Montevideo City Council members are instructing City Manager Steve Jones and Assistant City Manager Angie Steinbach to present them with a succession plan at their next meeting.

Montevideo city council members are seen through window blinds in the lobby outside the council chambers while holding a closed meeting on Monday. From left are council members Todd Hay, Nathan Schmidt, and Marv Garbe, city clerk Glennis Lauritsen, members Sandra Hodge and Bryce Curtiss, Mayor Debra Lee Fader, and city attorney Janice Nelson.

MONTEVIDEO – Montevideo City Council members are instructing City Manager Steve Jones and Assistant City Manager Angie Steinbach to present them with a succession plan at their next meeting.

The motion ordering the succession plan came after council members met in a closed session for about one hour and 45 minutes on Monday evening. Council President Marv Garbe said at the onset that the purpose of the closed meeting was to “discuss the city manager employment.” No vote was taken to close the meeting and the council members did not cite the exception to the state’s Open Meeting Law that would allow for a closed session.
The council president instructed over two dozen supporters of the city manager, including volunteer firemen and city employees, to leave while the closed meeting was held. They complied and waited outside the council chambers the entire time.

“So everybody knows, no termination of the city manager was ever planned by the City Council,” Councilman Todd Hay told the audience after the council meeting was reopened.

Hay said the council is trying to do what is in the best interest of the city. “That is our only intent.”

At the previous council meeting, the members had looked at the number of city employees who are nearing retirement.


“If all of a sudden everybody who could retire, retired, we’d be in a big world of hurt,’’ Hay said Monday.

The council members approved the motion ordering the succession plan on a unanimous voice vote.

Council president Marv Garbe concurred with Hay.

“He’s 100 percent right. There was never any intention to go out and fire the city manager,’’ Garbe said.

Council members also informally agreed that they will conduct Jones’ annual performance evaluation at their December meeting, which is when it is traditionally conducted.

A performance evaluation is one of the allowed exceptions in statute under which a meeting may be closed. The public body must summarize the conclusions of the evaluation at its next open meeting. The subject of the evaluation can choose for it to be completed in an open session instead.

Council members on Monday said they were not going to say any more about their decision to hold the special closed meeting to discuss the city manager’s employment. Jones met with the council members for about one-half of the closed session.

The issue of a succession plan arose one week ago after council members learned that Assistant City Manager Steinbach was selected as one of five finalists to be interviewed for the Yellow Medicine County administrator position. It’s widely understood that the council members want to keep Steinbach on staff. Council members appointed her as assistant city manager in August 2015.


Steinbach said Tuesday that she remains an active candidate for the Yellow Medicine County position.

Jones said Tuesday it is his understanding after meeting with the council members that the council appreciates the management staff in place, and wants to keep both Steinbach and himself.

Jones, who turned 63 on Tuesday, said it is his hope to continue working for three more years before retiring. He joined the city as city manager in 1998.


What To Read Next
Get Local