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Grand Forks cuts urban development director’s job; move follows conflict of interest violation involving subsidized apartment

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Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown terminated Urban Development Director Greg Hoover’s employment on Monday as part of a city restructuring effort.

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The termination of Hoover’s 11-year career with the city follows a conflict of interest violation regarding federal housing program rules, though City Administrator Todd Feland said that’s not the reason his job was cut.

“With the restructuring, there was no position for Greg to move to,” Feland said. “We thought it would be effective to part ways under the best of circumstances.”

Greg Hoover declined to comment on the termination.

As for the conflict of interest violation, Feland said it’s a case of bad timing.

The violation discovered by the state Department of Commerce earlier this year involves Hoover’s daughter, Ashley Hoover, renting an apartment partially subsidized by federal housing funds administered through her father’s department. Her lease is now set to end April 30.

Ashley Hoover is also an employee in her father’s office, and her two week’s notice was issued Monday by the mayor as well.

Her last day in the office was Monday but her last official day with the city will be May 2. She worked part-time as a secretary in Hoover’s office over the past few years while attending UND. Feland said she had intended to leave her job at the end of the semester.

“It was more correlation than causation,” Feland said of both leaving the city’s employment following the violation.

Restructuring

The future of Hoover’s position had been up in the air following the release of the city’s restructuring plan.

A staff report published in late March shows one portion of the restructuring would merge the Planning and Urban Development departments into one. The move aims to create a one-stop shop for developers, homeowners and businesses.

In that document, the director of urban development position is noted as “under review.”

“We don’t intend to fill that position,” Feland said.

Instead, City Planner Brad Gengler will serve as director of the future Community Development Services department.

In total, the reorganization of those two departments and others such as Public Works and Information Technology is expected to save the city more than $400,000.

The city also will be taking a closer look at employment policies and systems to prevent an incident such as the one involving the Hoovers in the future, according to Feland.

Contracts

Greg Hoover’s abrupt dismissal is provided for in his contract.

“The agreement may be terminated by the city at any time, with or without cause,” reads his employment agreement.

Unlike a majority of city employees, Hoover was considered a contract employee, which means he can be let go at any time, according to Feland.

“His services were no longer needed as of yesterday,” he added.

Hoover was terminated without cause, meaning he did not break contract terms that would prohibit him from receiving a severance package such as being convicted of a felony, threatening physical violence and unauthorized use of city property.

Hoover will remain on city payroll until late October as part of his severance package. His approved salary for 2014 is listed at $107,910 in an annual salary update document.

Part-time employees are not listed in the city’s annual salary plan, but an Oct. 4, 2013, quarterly staffing update report lists Ashley Hoover’s hourly wage as $11.67.

The report also shows her position was changed from contract to seasonal at that time, meaning she would resign and be rehired temporarily — similar to those working summer jobs for the city.

Click here to see:

A letter to Gregory Hoover from Mayor Mike Brown

A salary update

An employment agreement

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Brandi Jewett
Brandi Jewett is an enterprise reporter for the Grand Forks Herald with beats focusing on northwest Minnesota, unmanned aircraft systems and East Grand Forks city government. Other positions she has held at the Herald include Grand Forks city government reporter, general assigment reporter and news intern. A native of Valley City, N.D., 24 years worth of winters haven't scared her out of the state yet. Follow her work at www.grandforksherald.com and on Twitter and Instagram: @brandijewett. Send tips and story ideas to bjewett@gfherald.com. 
(701) 780-1108
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