may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
St. Cloud Civil Service Board,
Filed September 1, 1998
St. Cloud Civil Service Board
Jordan S. Kushner, Law Office of Jordan S. Kushner, Sexton Building, Suite 636, 529 South 7th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (for relator)
Jan F. Peterson, St. Cloud City Attorney, City Hall, 400 Second Street South, St. Cloud, MN 56301; and
Pamela R. Galanter, Frank Madden & Associates, Suite 295, 505 North Highway 169, Plymouth, MN 55441 (for respondents)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and Kalitowski, Judge.
Relator argues respondent improperly deferred its decision-making authority and denied him a hearing on his request. Relator challenges respondents' decision denying his request, arguing it was arbitrary and capricious and without evidentiary support in the record. We affirm.
On March 20, 1997, Erickson requested a hearing with respondent St. Cloud Civil Service Board (CSB). The CSB met on April 3, 1997, and heard from Erickson and Balcom Gaetz. During the meeting, it was established that Erickson had received a salary upgrade from range 13 to range 15 in 1993 and that no new job duties had been added to his position since that time. Although Erickson stated that other nonbargaining, middle-management positions are at range 17, Balcom Gaetz stated that the city administration did not believe that he had the same job duties as those positions. The CSB concluded that it needed more information and suggested that at the next regularly scheduled meeting the mayor, John Dolentz the City Engineer/Director of Public Works, and Jan Peterson, the St. Cloud City Attorney, be questioned on the issue.
At its next meeting on May 1, 1997, the CSB questioned whether, under the city's Home Rule Charter, it had jurisdiction over Erickson's request and whether it was for the city council to decide. The CSB asked that a questionnaire be devised to handle requests like Erickson's. Balcom Gaetz prepared a draft questionnaire and presented it to the CSB at its July 10, 1997 meeting. Erickson completed a finalized copy of the form and submitted it, along with proposed revisions to his job description, to Balcom Gaetz. She forwarded it to the CSB for its consideration. Mayor Winkelman indicated his approval that additional job responsibilities be included in Erickson's job description.
At the October 30, 1997, meeting, the CSB reviewed the completed form and submissions of Erickson. In addition, the CSB heard from Dolentz who explained that the proposed changes submitted by Erickson did not qualify for a salary change and that despite his recommendation that Erickson's job description be upgraded, the mayor denied the upgrade and more job responsibilities. Erickson, also at the meeting, responded by saying that the mayor originally agreed, gave his signature, but changed his mind. The CSB then requested that Balcom Gaetz ask the mayor for a written explanation for his decision. In a written memorandum dated November 7, 1997, the mayor explained that he indicated approval only of responsibility changes in the job description and not that the position have a salary change. The mayor noted that by Erickson's own admission, no new job duties had been added to the job description since 1993. Since no new job responsibilities were being added to the position, the mayor concluded that no salary increase was warranted.
At the November 13, 1997, meeting, the CSB voted to deny Erickson's request to change his job description and salary increase. By letter dated December 31, 1997, the new mayor, Larry Meyer, offered to increase Erickson's job duties and give him a corresponding salary upgrade from range 15 to range 16. The letter concluded by asking Erickson to sign the letter if he agreed with the terms of the proposal. Erickson did not sign the letter. This appeal follows.
Unless otherwise provided by statute or appellate rule, a party must petition this court for a writ of certiorari to obtain review of the quasi-judicial decision of an administrative body. Micius v. St. Paul City Council, 524 N.W.2d 521, 522 (Minn. App. 1994). If no statute or rule expressly vests judicial review in the district court, the court of appeals has exclusive certiorari jurisdiction. Id. at 223. A decision is quasi-judicial "if it is the product or result of discretionary investigation, consideration, and evaluation of evidentiary facts." Pierce v. Otter Tail County, 524 N.W.2d 308, 309 (Minn. App. 1994), review denied (Minn. Feb. 3, 1995). Certiorari will not lie unless there is a final determination of rights. Mowry v. Young, 565 N.W.2d 717, 719 (Minn. App. 1997), review denied (Minn. Sept. 18, 1997).
The Minnesota Administrative Procedure Act (MAPA) provides for certiorari review by this court of a final decision in a contested case made by an agency having statewide jurisdiction. Minn. Stat. §§ 14.01, subd. 2, (1996), 14.63-.69. Certiorari review under MAPA is not available unless the agency or board has statewide jurisdiction. See Dietz v. Dodge County, 487 N.W.2d 237, 239 (Minn. 1992) (holding because county does not have statewide jurisdiction, it is not subject to MAPA).
We recognize that the CSB does not have statewide jurisdiction; however, we conclude that although this is a close case, certiorari review is appropriate in this instance. "Certiorari is generally the only way to challenge the actions of municipalities, school districts, and other executive bodies." Larson v. New Richland Care Ctr., 538 N.W.2d 915, 918 (Minn. App. 1995), review granted (Minn. Dec. 10, 1995), review denied (Minn. Mar 4, 1997); see also Minn. Stat. § 606.01 (1996) (providing writ of certiorari shall be issued to correct any proceeding if issued within 60 days after party applying for such writ receives notice of proceeding to be reviewed). Certiorari review of a county civil service board's decision not to reclassify a position is appropriate when no statute or civil service rule authorizes an appeal from the board's decision. In Neujahr, 370 N.W.2d at 448, this court held that certiorari review is appropriate to review a county civil service commission's decision not to grant an employee's request for job reclassification. In that case, the employee petitioned this court for a writ of certiorari pursuant to MAPA. Id. at 447. The Ramsey County Civil Service Board argued that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the employee's appeal because it was not an agency with statewide jurisdiction as required by MAPA, and in the absence of any specific statute or rule authorizing an appeal, "no appeal [could] be taken from its actions." Id. at 448. This court noted that the applicable statutes and rules did not address the appeal of a reclassification decision and that "'[t]here is a presumption in favor of judicial review of agency decisions in the absence of statutory language to the contrary.'" Id. (quoting Minnesota Pub. Interest Research Group v. Minnesota Envtl. Quality Council, 306 Minn. 370, 376, 237 N.W.2d 375, 379 (1975) (footnote omitted)). This court rejected the board's argument, holding that the board had "not overcome the presumption in favor of judicial review of administrative actions" and that judicial review of the board's order refusing relator's reclassification request was appropriate. Id.
Here, there is no statute or rule authorizing an appeal from the CSB's decision to deny Erickson's request that his job be reclassified. We conclude further that the CSB's denial is a quasi-judicial decision because it required the board to determine facts about the nature of Erickson's job, his current duties and responsibilities, the proposed additions to his duties and job responsibilities, and whether, based on these facts, to allow the reclassification. The decision of the CSB was also a final decision. Once the CSB and Mayor refused to submit Erickson's request to the city council, there was nothing more to be done. The city council never had the opportunity to consider and decide Erickson's request and the decision of the CSB was therefore final. We conclude that this decision of the CSB is subject to judicial review.
On certiorari review, we are limited to questioning whether the board had jurisdiction and the regularity and fairness of the proceedings and questioning whether the decision was "unreasonable, oppressive, arbitrary, fraudulent, without evidentiary support, or based on an incorrect theory of law." Radke v. St. Louis County Bd., 558 N.W.2d 282, 284 (Minn. App. 1997). The decision is to be upheld if the board provided any legal and substantial basis for its action. Senior v. City of Edina, 547 N.W.2d 411, 416 (Minn. App. 1996).
Erickson insists that the CSB's decision denying his request is arbitrary and capricious and unsupported by the evidence in the record. Erickson relies primarily on the Comparable Worth Study completed by the city in 1987. This study was conducted pursuant to the Minnesota Pay Equity Act and initially gave Erickson's position a value of 82 points. However, the final version of the study adopted by the city awarded the position 78 points. Erickson claims that there is no reason why his comparable worth points were the only ones lowered in the study. In effect, Erickson's legal case is built around an argument that the Comparable Worth Study, now 11 years old, was faulty. Given this length of time, the results of this study are not subject to certiorari review, at least on the facts before us. See Minn. Stat. § 606.01 (certiorari review will lie only if issued within 60 days after due notice of proceeding to reviewed is received).
A review of the record shows that although Erickson performs some of the same duties as other supervisors, his position is different in the duties, responsibilities, tasks performed, and the experience required. According to the memorandum submitted to the CSB by Balcom Gaetz dated April 25, 1997, unlike the Maintenance Supervisor (MS) position Erickson submitted for comparison, the Auto Equipment Maintenance Supervisor position: (1) is supervisory only over one organizational unit; (2) supervises only one tier of workers and those workers have no supervisory responsibilities over other employees; (3) the minimum supervisory experience is only 6 months compared to 3 years for the MS position; (4) the position does not require direct interaction with the public, but only other supervisors, subordinates, and work groups; and (5) the position requires the performance of the duties and tasks that are also being assigned. The memo observed that the MS is a supervisory position with administrative duties and responsibilities while the Auto Equipment Maintenance Supervisor position "is more of a lead worker position with supervisory responsibilities." The memo concluded by stating that although there are similarities in the job descriptions, such as budgeting responsibilities, "this will be the case from job to job across the entire classification plan." The record further establishes that Erickson's supervisor has repeatedly stated that Erickson's duties, while similar to other supervisors, are significantly different in nature and scope.
Only after receiving this information and after hearing from numerous individuals, including Erickson, over an 8-month period did the CSB deny Erickson's request. There is much evidence in the record to support the CSB's decision. We cannot say as a matter of law that it is arbitrary and capricious or without evidentiary support.
Erickson claims that the CSB's decision was unlawful because it violated the city charter by impermissibly transferring decision-making authority over his request to the mayor. Under section 7.50 of the St. Cloud Home Rule Charter, the mayor was allowed and required to provide his recommendations regarding the CSB's proposed position classification plan. The CSB therefore sought and received feedback from the mayor. In an effort to make a reasoned decision, the CSB also allowed Erickson to present evidence in support of his request. Only after the CSB received all the relevant information, including the mayor's comments, did it make its decision to deny Erickson's request. The CSB's adoption of the job revision request questionnaire did not relinquish its decision-making authority. It simply provides the CSB with a way to gather the information necessary for it to make a reasoned decision on an employee's request. Likewise, there is no evidence in the record to support Erickson's claim that the mayor directed the CSB to deny Erickson's request. The record evidence establishes that it was the CSB, at its November 13, 1997, meeting, that voted to deny Erickson's request, and not the mayor. We conclude that the CSB did not improperly shift its decision-making authority to the mayor.
Erickson argues that he was denied a hearing by the CSB. Under section 7.50 of the Home Rule Charter, an employee is entitled to "a reasonable opportunity to heard" if the employee is affected by any allocation or reallocation of a position to a class or by any changes in the classification plan. The record unequivocally establishes that Erickson was allowed to appear before the CSB on at least two occasions: once at the April 3 meeting and again at the October 30 meeting. Each time, Erickson was allowed to speak and to present documentary evidence in support of his request. The record also establishes that Erickson submitted information to the mayor, the human resources director, and his department head with regard to his request. We conclude that Erickson was given a hearing and a fair opportunity to be heard on his request.
Because we affirm the decision of the CSB, we do not address the issue of whether Erickson is entitled to a retroactive pay increase.