Miller Threatens Resignation; Remains on Council
The Pine City Council was one vote away from losing a member. Councilman Paul Miller told the council he was willing to resign if they did not accept his appointment to the Fire Captain One position.
Miller, who also works for the Pine City Volunteer Fire Department, was appointed to the Captain position in December. However, the council questioned the legality of the appointment due to Miller’s seat on the council. The city sent a letter to the State Attorney General asking whether or not Miller’s appointment is a conflict of interest. The Attorney General’s office responded that the decision is in the hands of the city.
The council raised concerns in previous meetings regarding voting on salaries of fire officers and the potential conflict of interest if Miller served as both a fire officer and council member. Miller claims this is not a conflict of interest because the council votes on the salaries based on a recommendation from the Fire Chief.
Council member Brian Scholin said, Wednesday, that it is important to follow the law and give the public the perception that the law is being followed. He said, “I personally just can’t support [the appointment].”
Hear Scholin’s Comments:
Councilman Paul Janssen told Miller he is in a lose-lose position. Miller responded that if the council voted against the appointment he would resign effective immediately.
Hear Miller’s Conversation with the Council:
Miller discussed the position while sitting away from the council table, instead occupying a public seat acting as a member of the fire department. He added that there is no state law or definite answers, only “a bunch of opinions” regarding the situation. In January, Miller told the council the only state statute he was aware of prohibited him from serving as chief or assistant chief because those positions are direct liaisons to the city.
City Administrator Don Howard said the city of Hutchinson faced a similar dilemma in the past. Howard told the council a fire officer also served on the city council and said the Attorney General advised Hutchinson to allow the city council to make the decision on the fire position.
The council voted 3-1 to allow Miller to serve as Captain. Scholin voted against the appointment. A 2-2 vote would have denied Miller’s appointment. Miller said his willingness to resign was not intended as a threat. He said he is very passionate about his role with the Fire Department.
Hear Miller’s Comments:
Miller will serve as Captain for a two year term, earning $1,500 a year.