Allegation of misconduct filed against Huebner, Olson

Both opted to have preliminary consideration of the complaints open to the public at the Monday, March 28 Menahga City Council meeting.

Menahga City Hall
Shannon Geisen / Park Rapids Enterprise

Two allegations of misconduct topped the Menahga City Council’s agenda on Monday, March 28.

Mayor Liz Olson was the subject of the first allegation and council member Art Huebner the second.

Both opted to have preliminary consideration of the complaints open to the public.

In both cases, the council was instructed to determine whether the alleged violations in code of conduct were “factual,” “sufficient” and “lodged in good faith, not for impermissible purposes such as delay.”

Neither Olson nor Huebner were aware of the details of the claims.


Reading from a script provided by the city attorney, council member Durwin Tomperi presided over this portion of the meeting.

“We are considering allegations against Mayor Olson described in the Flaherty & Hood, PA’s memorandum to the council on March 21, specifically the Feb. 28 complaint,” he said.

Interim City Administrator Betty Thomsen explained the council could not discuss the content of the allegations. She said the attorney emailed the memo to each council member individually.

But there was a hitch. Council members Dan Warmbold, Robyn Keranen and Huebner said they did not receive this memo. Tomperi said he did not receive the memo until he contacted Thomsen.

A recess was called while Thomsen alerted Flaherty & Hood to the error. Thomsen reported that the attorney said they received “delivery receipts,” but will resend the memo. This hearing was tabled.

The meeting resumed and addressed allegations against Huebner, with Olson presiding.

According to Flaherty & Hood’s memorandum, also dated March 21, the complaint against Huebner stemmed from a March 9 incident.

The council, excluding Huebner, affirmed they received the memo.


“Do I get to know what this is all about or are you just railroading me in?” Huebner asked.

Thomsen said if the council determines a hearing should be held, then Huebner will be provided with the complaint.

“This is a kangaroo court if I ever seen one,” Huebner commented.

Warmbold made the motion that the complaint meets the criteria for a hearing. Tomperi seconded.

The motion passed 3-2, with Huebner and Keranen opposed. Keranen, who attended the meeting remotely, said she could not access her email. Olson pointed out the memo was emailed one week ago.

The hearing will be held on a date to be determined. Thomsen will consult with legal counsel to draft appropriate notice for Huebner and the individual making the allegations.

15% water rate increase

The council passed a 15% water rate increase, effective immediately, and a 7.5% increase for 2023 “to ensure sufficient revenues to meet the water system debt service payments.”


Olson said the resolution was at the behest of Minnesota Public Facilities Authority (PFA) in order to move forward with constructing a new water tower. The city is applying for low-interest loans and grants from the Minnesota Clean Water Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water Revolving Fund, both of which are administered by PFA.

“Is this playing catch up to get us back to where we should’ve been?” asked Tomperi.

“Yes, it is,” Olson replied.

Thomsen clarified that the 15% increase is the same one that was implemented when the council approved a new water rate earlier in March. This resolution promises to increase the water rates again in 2023.

A 2015 utility rate study, prepared by Ehlers Inc., had recommended annual increases, but those were not implemented for the past several years.

The resolution further stated the council would review the water fund revenues on an annual basis and make adjustments to assure the water fund reserves can cover the PFA debt.

Water conservation report

The council reviewed the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) water conservation report.

Public Works Director Ron Yliniemi pointed out that the city’s unaccounted water loss dropped from about 15% last year to 7.8% this year.


The report stated, “For most water suppliers, working on reducing water loss should be your top conservation objective. Cities should first make their own water supply system as efficient as possible. In addition to leaks, water can be ‘lost’ through unauthorized consumption (theft), administrative errors, data handling errors and metering inaccuracies or failure.”

Tomperi inquired when failing water meters would be replaced with newly purchased ones. Yliniemi replied he hoped to complete that within the next month or so.

The council agreed Yliniemi should contract spring street sweeping since he had not received an answer from Ewanika’s Unlimited Repair about the status of the city’s sweeper repairs, despite sending a certified letter to the business.

Yliniemi noted a freeze run was still in progress on the hydrants. “We have five, total, running,” he said.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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