City of West Fargo losing another Finance Director

WEST FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) – Heide Delorme resigned from her position as Finance Director with the City of West Fargo on Feb. 8, 2024. This comes after her predecessor was fired amid controversy.

Delorme’s last day will be Thursday, Feb. 22. The city’s communication team states: The City of West Fargo wishes Delorme the best in her future endeavors and thanks her for her hard work during her time as Finance Director.

Delorme’s resignation letter reads: I wish to inform you that I will be resigning my position as Finance Director with the City as of February 22, 2024. I regret any inconvenience this will cause. I will do my best to finish my current projects before my last day & will be available for questions after that date.

Delorme just started in the position in mid-June, one month after the former Finance Director was fired.

Terri Gayhart was hired in May of 2022, and documents show complaints started surfacing about her work within one month of being hired.

In November 2022, an exit interview shows a long-time member of the finance team quit because of Gayhart. A finance manager with the department for 15 years laid out multiple issues with Gayhart and said, “In the end, I’ve put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this place to get the experience that I have. I find my experience to be unwelcomed and unappreciated. It was a hard decision but someone like her [Gayhart] does not deserve someone like me (and everyone else in the Finance Office).”

In 2023, the city of West Fargo found themselves sorting through utility billing errors where some properties were being incorrectly charged, resulting in a loss to taxpayers of at least $1.25 million in revenue. Officials found some properties had been overbilled, underbilled or in some cases not billed at all for multiple years at a time.

During the public comment period of the City Commission meeting on Monday, June 5, 2023, one resident called for transparency and accountability.

“How much must taxes increase to pay for all these secret agreements? What is the city attorney doing? It appears he is looking out for administrators not the best interest of the city. He recommended separation agreements for directors who quit after proving incompetent for positions they held. Who approved withholding information from commissioners? Who approved the firing of innocent employees as a cover up? Who approved the secret agreement with Cargill? What other secret agreements and cover ups is he recommending? Transparency, accountability and professionalism is all citizens and employees ask for, but we’re certainly not getting it. Good luck straightening this all out, we fear there’s more yet to be uncovered.”

Reports indicate several finance department employees were fired after the billing errors were discovered. The City of West Fargo tells Valley News Live they cannot comment on personnel matters.

A group called West Fargo TAP is calling for people in West Fargo to speak their minds and speak at City Commission meetings to let city officials know how they feel.

During the city commission meeting on May 15, West Fargo Mayor Bernie Dardis said: “This is beyond comprehension of how we got to this point. This isn’t something a commissioner is going to go in and look for but we’ve been dealt a hand now and it’s going to be up to us to try and fix it.”

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