Nate Mathews resigns as city manager of Bemidji
In a special meeting on Friday, the Bemidji City Council approved a separation and release agreement regarding Nate Mathews, specifying that he is voluntarily resigning from his role as city manager.
BEMIDJI — In what seems to be the conclusion to the recent proceedings of the Bemidji City Council, Nate Mathews has resigned as the city manager of Bemidji.
During a special meeting on Friday, the city council unanimously approved a separation and release agreement for Mathews that specified that he is voluntarily resigning from his position.
This action comes after several months of public attention toward the council as they took measures to hold a non-annual review of Mathews, which lasted five hours and passed a preliminary resolution to remove him from his role as city manager.
Throughout the process, the council has faced some criticism from the public for how the situation has been handled, particularly since there has been little explanation for why the council was pursuing Mathews’ removal.
The only reasoning provided was outlined as a part of the preliminary resolution the council passed on April 3, which cited a lack of confidence and loss of trust between the council and Mathews resulting from:
“City Manager Nate Mathews’ certain insufficient, untimely, unclear, selective and unprofessional communications with city council members, city employees and the public on substantive city business, concerns expressed about such communications and related conduct by members of the public and others with whom the city works with, City Manager Nate Mathews’ reluctance to sufficiently, completely and uniformly communicate with city council members on all substantive city business and comply with city council direction.”
Now, however, after being placed on leave following a 4-2 vote on the preliminary resolution, and with a council vote initially expected on his termination later this month, Mathews has resigned.
In Friday’s meeting, the separation and release agreement was approved unanimously after a motion was made by At-large Councilor Audrey Thayer and seconded by Ward 5 Councilor Lynn Eaton.
As a part of the agreement, the city made public the financial terms of Mathews’ resignation. This included a lump sum payment of $81,809.42, the equivalent of six months of Mathews’ salary, in addition to an amount equivalent to his accumulated paid time off.
Because the preliminary resolution the council had previously passed used language regarding termination, the council received a recommendation to rescind the resolution to avoid any contradicting language.
“The separation and release agreement between the city and Nate Mathews specifies that he is voluntarily resigning from employment with the city of Bemidji,” explained Brandon Fitzsimmons, an attorney from Flaherty and Hood who has been advising the council. “The resolution that was approved by the council April 3 provided he would be removed. You need to take action to avoid a contradiction, to rescind that specific resolution.”
Ward 4 Councilor Emelie Rivera made the motion to rescind the council’s previous resolution, which was seconded by Ward 2 Councilor Josh Peterson and passed unanimously.
Mathews had been employed as the city manager of Bemidji since 2015. Prior to his position in Bemidji, he served as the city manager of Staples for eight years.
While the council searches for someone to fill the position’s vacancy, City Clerk Michelle Miller is serving as the acting city manager for Bemidji.