March 10, 2023 at 1:20 p.m.
North Branch Council briefs
The designation was recommended by city legal counsel.
The label of personnel or not—helps make make clear what level of access in data matters is legal. Should an elected or appointed person become the subject of a pending complaint, if non-personnel designation has been made part of the record, the process is more public and open.
Employees however, are to be handled with confidentiality in matters of personnel data privacy. Attorney Alissa Harrington explained if the council opts to designate officeholders as employees, that triggers Minnesota Data Privacy rules and concerns. Harrington added that the designation is useful in smaller cities where officeholders generally are employed elsewhere and are not “fulltime.”
Council members Kelly Neider and Peter Schaps did not understand that the requested designation only affects appointees and officeholders, and questioned why this designation is needed now.
They both raised issues with information they have requested in light of a workplace investigation underway. Neider said she had filed a “complaint” but did not expand on details, arguing there is an on-going data matter in process and disputed how this is a good time to set a designation.
Attorney Harrington said the “grey area” that the personnel designation clears up has to do only with elected and appointed persons.
The investigation initiated in earlier council action “clearly” falls under personnel Data Privacy conditions, said Harrington.
Council member Schaps eventually made a motion to put this on the March 21 work session agenda and it was approved by all.
In the matter of the soon-to-retire Liquor Operations Director, council agreed (on a split vote) to promote Carla Golden from within. There were three in support, and Neider and Schaps voted no.
Operations Director Deb Dahlberg said Golden has been with the city for six years and prior to that, worked in a municipal liquor system for 10 years. City Administrator Renae Fry also recommended Golden for a promotion in a re-structure of off-sale duties upon Dahlberg’s exit in April.
Fry named other department heads who have moved up from introductory positions with North Branch. She added there is a six month review of performance and if there are issues, council can review the action.
The city council also had another split vote, actually a tie-vote, in appointing planning commission members. There are three seats open. Lorraine Moeller and Sarah Bishop submitted the only applications. Moeller’s appointment died on a 2-2 tie Canada and Miles opposed and the mayor and Schaps voting yes, with Neider “abstaining.”
Bishop was seated, with Schaps and Neider opposed.
A request for an expansion of Peterson’s Farm and Garden store was okayed.
The building will grow by 9,400 square feet.
And a development proposed at the southeast corner of Elmcrest and 363rd, won approval. The project is Cliffs North Branch Acres.