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City finance director on leave, two city liquor store employees resign amid investigation

Lori Sorenson

City of Luverne finance director Robyn Wessels is on a leave of absence from her employment in city hall, according to a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

“The City of Luverne wishes to briefly address certain inquiries and information related to finance director Robyn Wessels’ employment status with the city,” the statement read.

“Robyn Wessels is employed by the city as finance director. Finance director Wessels is currently on a leave of absence from employment with the city,”

City Administrator Jill Wolf declined to comment further on the details of the leave, due to personnel privacy laws. However, the action coincides with two recent resignations in the city liquor store department.

Wolf confirmed last week that liquor store manager Kenny Rolling and liquor store employee Christy Wilson both resigned amid an internal investigation into the department’s finances.

The city’s legal team, Flaherty and Hood, is heading up that investigation, which Wolf said does not have criminal implications and will not result in disciplinary action since the affected employees have resigned.

The outcome of the investigation will be made public at a future council meeting when it has concluded.

Wessels has been employed with the city since 2001 and was named finance director in May 2019.

Former city finance director Barbara Berghorst has been retained to assist the city in Wessels’ absence. She’s contracted at a rate of $50.16 per hour for 20 hours a week.

In her statement Tuesday, Wolf said all city finance obligations are being met in the interim.

“The city’s finance department will continue to provide effective and efficient finance functions for the city and the community in finance director Wessels’ absence,” she said.