The mayor of Minnetrista has resigned at midterm after 14 years in the position, citing a poisonous relationship with four remaining council members.
"It's very sad," Cheryl Fischer said in an interview. "I took it as long as I possibly could. But I can't effect change anymore.
"I'll be the first. There will be others," she said, adding that council members have been rude to city staffers, have stopped including her in discussions and may be conducting official business without public notice, in violation of state law. She said she has been collecting council e-mails, which are public record, to back up that assertion.
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Acting Mayor Anne Hunt said a search of e-mails and phone and social media communications will only show that the council has been following the open meeting law. She said that when the council meets Monday, she will call for a state audit of city expenditures going back several years.
Hunt and Fischer agreed on the bones of contention between the mayor and the council in recent years — a new police station that council members believed was too expensive and an effort to build a new drinking water treatment plant. Fischer said the council did an end-around on plans approved several years ago and is moving toward a far more expensive plant; Hunt said the previously approved plant was inadequate for the growing needs of the city of 6,700 people.
On Monday, the council could appoint Hunt as mayor, which would open up a council seat that members might also fill by appointment, likely until November elections, City Administrator Mike Funk said. Or it could appoint another citizen as mayor, possibly through this year. Fischer's term, however, runs until 2016, and Hunt, whose council term runs through this year, said she will not serve past the end of this year.