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Wells council delays hiring

By Staff | Jul 19, 2008

Scott Linde

The City of Wells is back to square one in their search for a new administrator after the council decided not to hire either one of two finalists. Instead they will revisit 26 previous applications.

The two were Zoa Heckman, currently the community development director in Wells, and Diane Miller, the city administrator in Canby.

The council previously ranked 20 candidates and narrowed the list to five. A committee of local city and business leaders interviewed two of the candidates but had not made a recommendation to the council.

At last Mondays regular meeting, a motion by Councilman Shannon Savick to hire Heckman died for lack of a second.

“Zoa has done an excellent job in her position,” Councilman Ron Gaines said. “But I feel that she does not meet our minimum qualifications for the job of administrator.” He added a “Sorry, Zoa,” to Heckman who was in attendance at the meeting. She responded with “It’s alright, Ron, I’m a big girl.”

Shannon Savick

“But I wonder why you put me through all of this being a finalist if you felt I did not qualify?” she asked.

A second motion by Councilman Stephen Burns to hire Miller was later withdrawn when it became apparent that the council was not comfortable offering her the job either.

The council spent some time debating hiring Miller, or reopening the process.

“If we start over it will be mid-October before someone is in place,” Mayor Dave Jacobson said. “And it is time to be working on next year’s budget.”

Both Gaines and Savick questioned some things in Miller’s background.

Jacobson said both candidates were clear on the criminal background checks, but there were a couple of issues on Miller’s credit check that had to do with her ex-husband and previous businesses the two owned.

“I wondered about her listing municipal liquor store experience on her resume, when she later told us she had none,” Savick said. “I don’t think she has a lot of experience.”

Savick also questioned some dates on Miller’s resume.

Councilman Scott Linde said he scored Miller high during the interview process and would be comfortable offering her the position. He had seconded the motion to hire her, and later withdrew it.

“Diane, for me, is the better candidate, and other members of the committee felt the same way,” he said.

“There just are some things in her background that I don’t feel comfortable with,” Gaines countered. He added that the council has dealt with the budget before and could do so again, without an administrator in place.

Jacobson said he would make sure the council members had all 26 applications in their hands the next day. That way they could begin the ranking process again.

After the meeting the mayor told the Register that both Heckman’s and Miller’s resumes would be included in the batch of 26.

“I don’t think they were eliminated from consideration just because we didn’t choose them Monday night,” Jacobson said. “The council never voted to remove them, they just decided not to decide.”

Earlier in Monday’s meeting the council looked at a contract that would be offered to a new administrator, but eventually decided they did not need one and would just use the city’s personnel policy.

“Almost everything in this contract is covered by the personnel policy,” Jacobson said. “It has been what we have used for years and there has never been a problem.”

Savick had presented the contract, saying it had been drafted by City Attorney David Frundt.

“It includes a performance review process that we haven’t had before,” she said. “There are things covered in here that could save us money if for some reason the person does not meet our needs and we have to let them go.”

Jacobson listed several things in the contract that he felt were not needed, such as relocation allowance, auto allowance, and termination benefits.

The council decided to offer the administrator position based on the personnel policy, but add a provision of a six-month or one-year performance evaluation.