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Farmington city administrator resigns unexpectedly

I've been at five counties, two cities, and had one overseas assignment, and I've had to walk away from all of them for one reason or another," Farmington city administrator Peter Herlofsky said Tuesday morning.

That was the explanation Herlofsky gave for turning in his resignation to Farmington City Council members following a Monday night economic development authority meeting.

Just short of his five-year anniversary on May 1, Herlofsky leaves the city of Farmington with no new position lined up. Nor did he give council members a specific reason for his departure.

"I didn't give a reason, I just gave a date," he said.

That date is May 31. Herlofsky chose to resign this week because the terms of his contract require a 60-day notice, and he wanted to enjoy the summer with his wife and family.

Herlofsky handed his resignation letter mayor Todd Larson and council members Christy Jo Fogarty and Jason Bartholomay following the EDA meeting. He'd hoped to notify the entire council at once, but Terry Donnelly and Julie May were not in attendance at Monday's meeting. Herlofsky planned to tell the city management team at its weekly meeting Tuesday morning, but most staff had already heard the news by then.

Later Tuesday, Larson said he was surprised by Herflosky's actions.

"I was a little floored," Larson said. "He's talked about retirement with me, every once in a while he'd bring it up, but there's been nothing lately. Nothing in the past month or two."

Larson contacted May and Fogarty reached Donnelly with the news on Tuesday. Council members have not yet had an opportunity to talk about what their next steps will be. Council will have to acknowledge the resignation at their next meeting Monday, April 4, but Larson suspects they will have to hold a workshop with city attorney Joel Jamnik to decide what to do next. At this time, Larson said, no one has been selected as an interim administrator to take over once Herlofsky leaves.

Adjusting to the future

When Herlofsky says he's taking the summer off, he means it. He and his wife live in Farmington, and they're not relocating any time soon. Herlofsky is looking forward to having more time to spend with his grandchildren, but insists this is not a retirement.

"The department heads here are very good. They made my job enjoyable, and I think we got a lot accomplished in five years, but I have to have fun every day. I've been looking forward to a summer off since I was 13," he said.

Herlofsky's performance has drawn some scrutiny from the city council in recent weeks. At a March 10 retreat, council members expressed frustrations that they were not getting information from him. Those concerns were discussed again at a March 19 retreat. Herlofsky would not say whether the concerns of council members had anything to do with his decision.

"I have been looking at this for a while," he said, "and a variety of events have helped me determine what's best for me.

"Elected officials are a reflection of the community," he said. "The community needs to look in the mirror very closely once in a while. When they vote for their elected officials, they need to take a look at that mirror."

Larson is not sure whether or not any of the council's recent comments played into Herlofsky's decision. Larson went to visit Herlofsky Tuesday, but got no answers.

"I have no idea. He never talked to me about any of that," Larson said. "When we talked today, he was very short with me, so I figured I'd let him cool off a bit."

When Herlofsky came to Farmington nearly five years ago, it was his intent to stay three to five years and give Farmington some stability. In his first week on staff, he participated in the settlement of litigation between the city and the Farmington School District. Under his leadership, the city of Farmington has built a new city hall, participated in the opening of the Dakota Communications Center and weathered several budget cuts from the state of Minnesota. He has represented Farmington on numerous county and leadership committees, as well.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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