Dean Zuleger, the city administrator in Lake Elmo, will leave that position in a month under the terms of an agreement approved by the City Council late Tuesday.
The move follows months of turmoil triggered by the election in November of a new council majority opposed to development moves he had overseen.
“Clearly I have a philosophy of government that might not be in tune with the philosophy of the current council,” Zuleger said. He suggested “moving to a different day in Lake Elmo.”
The agreement, unanimously approved, seemed crafted to avoid being cast as either an outright resignation or a firing, for reasons related to the terms of his contract.
Zuleger will stay in the job for 30 days, then get six months’ severance pay, consulting with the city on certain matters for the first two months.
A move last winter to split from the city administrator ignited a furious community reaction, which led the new council majority to back off for a time.
Under strict legal cautions, little was said Tuesday night about the reasons for the separation.
Newly elected Council Member Julie Fliflet said she’s “at a bit of a loss here, considering that we all know the city administrator has been actively pursuing other jobs since last year, long before last fall’s election. He was already of a mind-set that he wanted to leave.”
During a recess, Zuleger said in an interview that he was approached by people in a pair of cities, including neighboring Oakdale, where he lives, and was willing to listen, but was not looking to depart.