Valley City police chief to retireMonths of quarrels between the city and its police chief ended Wednesday with an agreement calling his departure a retirement and providing severance pay and benefits totaling $76,717.
By: By Patrick Springer, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
VALLEY CITY, N.D. — Months of quarrels between the city and its police chief ended Wednesday with an agreement calling his departure a retirement and providing severance pay and benefits totaling $76,717.
The agreement with Dean Ross, who was placed on unpaid leave Sept. 9 amid allegations by city officials of his misconduct and mishandling of funds, won unanimous approval by the five-member Valley City Commission in a special meeting.
Russell Myhre, the Valley City attorney, called the agreement a “fair, just and appropriate resolution of the issues involving Chief Ross, including his 38 years of service to the city.”
Under the agreement, Ross will release the city from legal claims and the city is dropping its administrative allegations of misconduct and misappropriation of funds.
“This is the end of a career that I figure has been a good career and a distinguished career,” Ross, whose voice cracked with emotion, told reporters after the agreement was approved. “Maybe not everybody would agree with that.”
Ross, who was flanked by his wife, Deb, said he will look forward to retirement at age 60, allowing him to spend more time with their four grandchildren. He will continue his tree service, but said Wednesday he had no other employment plans.
The agreement included a “no disparagement” provision, meaning neither party can say anything bad about the other. Ross also agreed to have no communication with the media over his retirement and not to make any communications, or have anyone make any communications on his behalf, regarding the city.
Joe Larson, Ross’ lawyer, said both parties agreed it was best to move on. “We’ll let the agreement speak for itself,” he said.
The agreement does not affect an investigation by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, lawyers for both Ross and the city said. Ross said he has spoken with BCI agents and is cooperating with the investigation, but otherwise declined comment.
Valley City Mayor Robert Werkhoven said he hopes the agreement will help to end the rancor and divisiveness that have plagued city government in recent months.
On Tuesday, voters will decide whether to eliminate the position of city administrator — whose current officeholder has clashed with Ross — and Werkhoven faces a possible recall vote next year.
“I think we need to move forward and put this behind us and begin the healing process,” Werkhoven said. “We’ve got a lot of serious issues facing us.”
The city faces pressing issues, including flood control involving the Sheyenne River and Devils Lake, as well as street and other infrastructure needs, he said.
The terms of the agreement provide Ross with severance pay and pension benefits of $64,061, accrued vacation of $7,405, and sick leave payout of $6,275.
Separately, the city reached an agreement with CounterAct, a nonprofit Ross was affiliated with involving youth alcohol and drug awareness and prevention.
The agreement with CounterAct called for $45,000 to be applied to youth alcohol and drug awareness and prevention. CounterAct also agreed to pay $25,000 to the city auditor of Valley City.
The agreement allows CounterAct, which will dissolve, to pay tax liabilities, Myhre said.
Patrick Springer is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.