Broken Bow Utility Superintendent Shocked at His Dismissal

The Broken Bow Utility Board held a special 12:30 pm meeting Friday June 12th to discuss the Electrical Superintendent position following action taken by the City Council during a regular meeting earlier in the week. During the June 9th meeting the Council members approved various reappointment for all city staff and department heads with the exception of Electrical Superintendent Jeremy Tarr. The lack of reappointment was essentially a termination of Mr. Tarr’s employment with the City of Broken Bow.

At Friday’s meeting, the Utility Board immediately voted to move into executive session to discuss the matter with Mayor Rod Sonnichsen, City Attorney Jason White and City Councilmen Larry Miller and David Schmidt. The closed meeting lasted approximately an hour. When the meeting was opened to the public, Board President Gene Chapin announced that they were not taking any action. After the meeting was adjourned Chapin told KCNI/KBBN News that as far as he knew neither the Mayor nor any Council members had communicated any problems with Tarr’s performance to the Utilities Board before the City Council voted not to reappoint Tarr.  Chapin said the Utilities Board did not have any authority to take action. The Utility Board members were unable to provide details because of the closed session rules, but said they discussed better communication between the two boards in the future.

Tarr did not attend the Friday meeting. KCNI/KBBN News was able to contact Mr. Tarr by phone Friday afternoon. He said he had received a written notification of his termination that day. Tarr said the Council’s vote to not reappoint him came as a complete shock because of the positive steps in the Electric Department that had been made in the two years he served as Superintendent. He also noted that there had been no reprimands and that he was evaluated only once in two years by former Mayor Jon Berghorst and that evaluation was good. Tarr said there were no conversations initiated by the Mayor or Council members about his job performance before the vote on June 9th. Tarr said the Council members have been reluctant to discuss the matter with him, but he was able to initiate a meeting with the Mayor on Thursday, June 11th to discuss the reasons for his dismissal. Tarr said he was told there had been some complaints about his performance but declined to provide any of the details to avoid affecting the careers of some employees who are still with the city. Tarr said “I wouldn’t do that, it is not the person I want to be.”

Following the June 9th Council meeting, Broken Bow Mayor Rod Sonnichsen told KCNI/KBBN News the Council based its decision off of its time and experience with department supervisors. He also said the job opening for Streets Superintendent would be posted. The Streets Superintendent position had been held by Bud Clark who was with the city for over 38 years.