Board approves separation agreement with administrator

·4 min read

May 17—The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a separation agreement with County Administrator Tom Jensen.

Jensen was appointed as administrator in September 2017 and before that worked in the Court Services Department in the county and the Department of Corrections in Faribault.

Jensen said he came to the decision after considerable thought and prayer over the past six weeks. His last day will be June 15.

"I have had nearly 26 years of service, and I believe the board will be better served by an administrator that more clearly lines with the current views and wishes of the board," Jensen said in a statement during the meeting. "I'd like to thank you for the opportunity."

Jensen applied and was appointed to the position after the arrest of former County Administrator John Kluever in May 2017 for drunken driving.

In a letter to the commissioners, Jensen said it has been a privilege to work with "an exceptionally dedicated team of managers and employees over the past nearly 26 years."

"I am very proud of the accomplishments that have been achieved over the past 5 1/2 years of my service as administrator," he said.

Fifth District Commissioner Ted Herman asked to go into closed session to discuss the separation, to which Jensen requested it stay open under his rights.

"I appreciate all the work you've done and continue to do for the county, and I truly wish you would rethink this," Herman said. "You've done an outstanding job, and we have good leadership that you've built around us."

He said Jensen has helped build relationships between the city and county.

"There's a lot of things you've done, Tom, that we're very grateful and thankful that you've done," Herman said.

Third District Commissioner John Forman echoed Herman's statements and said Jensen took over during a situation that "was kind of hectic," and helped straighten out many issues for the county.

"The county is in a very good financial position where our facilities are updated or in the process of being updated," Forman said. "He's handled disputes with tact and facts. I really wish he would reconsider. I can also understand his position as far as how much is enough."

Board Chairman Chris Shoff said he and Jensen had a discussion the day prior about other options.

Belshan said it has been a pleasure working with Jensen and noted he thinks Jensen has done a good job as administrator.

"It's a tough job. It seems like there's always crisis — fires to put out," Belshan said. "If it isn't one department it's another. I think it's just human nature, and I think he's done well with that.

"You do what you gotta do. I'm stepping down, too. There's a time for everything and I wish you well."

First District Commissioner Brad Edwin also thanked Jensen for his service and said he knows it is difficult working with new board members in some instances.

"I realize, Tom, you have done your utmost to move this county forward in a positive manner, and I want to thank you for that," Edwin said.

The separation agreement states the board determined Jensen's performance as administrator "do not fulfill the current views and desires of the board" and that the board had expressed an interest in separating his employment from the county.

"The parties wish to resolve all potential issues and disputes through this agreement in the interest of avoiding any potential litigation and administrative proceeding costs and expenses which may arise out of employee's employment with the employer and him [sic] separation from employment with the employer."

Jensen will be paid a lump sum payment of $74,890, which reflects the equivalent of six months of regular wages, as well as 100% of his accrued PTO up to 480 hours through June 15.

Belshan, after the vote had gone through, said he did not realize the vote included the dollar amount Jensen would be given. He said he thought it was simply to accept Jensen's resignation and would have voted against it had he realized.

Belshan said he did not recall paying $75,000 to an administrator who left the county previously.