Arnegard’s two police officers have until 5 p.m. Monday, March 4, to respond to amended separation agreements the city council approved at a special meeting Monday, Feb. 25.
The council voted 3-1 Monday to approve amended separation agreements for Arnegard Police Chief Troy White Owl and Police Officer Travis Bateman.
Council President Bryan Bjornstad and council members Josh Moody and Lowell Mosby voted yes on the agreements, and council member Bryan Hilbers voted no.
The agreements have not been made public yet, and the terms of the agreements were discussed in a closed session Monday. The council directed Arnegard Mayor Virginia Elliot to present White Owl and Bateman with the agreements once the amendments were incorporated and gave the two until Monday, March 4 to accept or reject them.
The agreements were a topic of discussion at several meetings earlier this month before they were finally approved at Monday’s special council meeting.
During the discussions about the separation agreements at previous meetings and at Monday’s special council meeting, neither Elliot nor any of the council members offered a reason for the agreements.
Elliot presented the agreements to the city’s personnel committee at a Feb. 11 meeting, but no action was taken on them. At the city council’s regular meeting on Feb. 13, the separation agreements were mentioned in passing when White Owl, Bateman and city auditor Juelie Bancroft presented the council with a grievance against the mayor.
That grievance accused Elliot of unprofessional behavior and creating a hostile environment for some of the city’s workers. In that grievance, the three wrote that they were being represented by an attorney, J. Michael Geiermann, and asked for all future communication to go through him.
It was unclear Tuesday, Feb. 26, whether White Owl and Bateman had been presented with the agreements to review. It also wasn’t immediately clear if Geiermann had been presented with the amended separation agreements.
At Monday’s special council meeting, Hilbers appeared to be the only council member who wanted to table the discussion. At the beginning of the meeting, he asked to amend the agenda before being told that agendas for special meetings cannot be changed once set.
He then moved to table the discussion of the agreements. That motion was not seconded and so was not voted on.
It was not clear what the process would be if one or both of the city’s police officers objected to the agreements. The deadline for White Owl and Bateman to respond to the agreements is one week before a special election that could see a change in mayors.
Elliot is facing a recall election scheduled for Monday, March 11. That election will pit Elliot against former mayor Jeffrey Kindel.
Elliot defeated Kindel in June with 35 votes to Kindel’s 31. Elliot served on the council for more than 20 years and served a previous four-year term as mayor, while Kindel serve four years on the city council before becoming mayor in 2014.