Former fire chief gets $55,000 in settlement

Mike Balzer, center, served as fire chief from 2012 to October 2015.

CANNON BEACH — Former Cannon Beach Fire Chief Mike Balzer will receive a one-time payout of $55,000 from the Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District and the district’s board of directors.

Details of the settlement, prepared by attorneys for Balzer, the fire district and the board of directors, were released Wednesday.

According to the agreement, Balzer will not receive attorneys’ fees or any additional compensation from the fire district. Balzer agrees he will not apply or accept employment from the fire department again, and agrees not to pursue future litigation against the fire district or board of directors.

The settlement was dated Dec. 13. Balzer’s civil rights lawsuit against the fire district was dismissed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak in Portland on Jan. 4.

“My only comment would be to express that the settlement is not an admission of fault to either side, but more a business decision based on the costs of litigation moving forward, not just for the district but for Mr. Balzer, as well,” said Ron Downs, an attorney with the Special Districts Association of Oregon who represented the fire district and members of the board of directors.

Earlier this week, Balzer’s attorney Judy Snyder said the former chief was “pleased with the resolution.”

“He’s pleased he’s engaged in this process and that it resulted in a satisfactory outcome for him,” Snyder said.

Balzer was fired in October 2015 in what the fire district’s board described as a “personnel matter.”

Balzer, who earned more than $100,000 in annual salary and compensation, was faulted for “poor leadership” in a performance evaluation.

Balzer stated in his complaint that the board’s actions led to damages to his reputation and standing in the community. He had sought compensation of almost $678,000 and reinstatement of his duties and benefits.

“The lawsuit itself is the end of any dispute between Mr. Balzer and the Cannon Beach Rural Fire District,” Snyder said this week.

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