BAXTER -- After meeting in a closed session for 75 minutes Tuesday, a subdued Baxter City Council voted to terminate City Administrator Larry Kruse's contract at the end of the year.
The vote was unanimous.
The council adjourned to a closed session from 9:30 to 10:45 p.m. to review the administrator's position and the contract. Kruse waited outside the chambers in the city hall entryway for most of the discussion. Mayor Gary Muehlhausen called him inside and more discussion followed. Then Kruse rushed out the council chamber doors into the city offices, grabbed his jacket and left the building. The council continued to meet in closed session, reconvening a short time later with the announcement.
Muehlhausen said the council "worked very hard on this issue. This has been a very challenging experience for myself and the council."
There was a pause between the motion to terminate Kruse's contract at year's end and the second. Once the second came, council member Mark Cross read from a statement.
Cross said the motion was based on and included findings of fact from Kruse's employee reviews on May 29, 2001, and Aug. 29, 2002. The council's list included a lack of confidence in Kruse and irreparable relationships Kruse has both in and out of the city as well as communication issues.
After the vote, the council adjourned and members declined to comment further.
The motion to terminate Kruse's contract came from Cross and was seconded by council member Darrel Olson. Muehlhausen said Kruse was aware the council was prepared to take action and the process would be to terminate the contract.
"It was quite clear what we were going to do," Muehlhausen said today.
Kruse left city hall before the council vote took place.
By 8 a.m. today the news was just trickling into the city hall offices.
In his office this morning, Kruse said he did not know the council's decision until this morning.
"It was a conversation that could have gone either way," Kruse said of his meeting with council members late last night.
This morning Kruse said he was still putting his thoughts together and had no ideas about the future at this time. He said he would rather comment in a written statement.
"It has been a pleasure to serve the residents of Baxter," Kruse wrote in a late morning e-mail. "We have all experienced many challenges and changes over the past four years. What an exciting time and place to be. The Baxter employees are a great bunch of talented and professional people, who I applaud.
"I thank all the residents and people that I have worked with; it has indeed been a pleasure. I thank my colleagues with whom I have worked so closely. For me this is another chapter in my life filled with great experiences. I'm not sure what tomorrow will bring. I will assist the city council as much as they want in the transition to new management and I wish them the best."
Kruse, a former Park Rapids city administrator, was hired in Baxter in December 1998.
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