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BREAKING NEWS

W’bago’s Feely resigns

By Staff | Mar 7, 2010

Jennifer Feely

Winnebago needs to hire a new city administrator.

At an emergency council meeting Thursday night, Jennifer Feely submitted her letter of resignation dated March 3.

Feely, who was hired in October 2007, gave no reason why she is resigning effective March 17. She is expected to start her new job March 29.

Resident Norma Schmitt asked Feely why she did not give an explanation for leaving.

“People are going to think she is running away from all the problems we are having,” Schmitt told the council.

Feely did tell the council she has found another job.

Mike Gerardy, interim clerk administrator of Caledonia, says Feely has accepted the city administrator position.

Caledonia has a population of around 3,000 and is located in the southeastern corner of the state near the Iowa and Wisconsin borders.

Gerardy says Feely was one of five finalists interviewed for the position on Feb. 19 and 20.

He says city officials began advertising to fill the vacancy last November and hired a Minneapolis firm to conduct the search for candidates.

“They did everything. They narrowed it down to the top 10. The council then picked the top five,” he says.

Feely will be paid a starting annual salary of $60,000, plus benefits. She will oversee 20 full-time employees, in addition to part-time and seasonal workers.

Winnebago council members Thursday night decided to have the executive hiring committee — Mayor Randy Nowak, Councilman Dana Gates and Feely — meet before Tuesday’s meeting to discuss hiring a replacement.

“It’s to start the process. To get together to talk about the procedure used last time and if that will be followed,” City Attorney Douglas Johanson told the council. Councilman Rick Johnson says the council should consider eliminating the position, in light of the budget cuts that will be needed due to reductions in state aid.

“It would save $50,000 in the budget. We would have to divvy up the duties,” he says. “We’d have to utilize committees and department heads a lot more. “

Johnson says a city administrator was first hired when the city had nearly 2,800 residents, but one may not be needed now because the population has declined to around 1,500.

Johnson says an Iowa town of about 3,000 people operates without an administrator.

“People assume more responsibilities and make it work.” he says.

However, council member Holly Stauffer wasn’t real supportive of Johnson’s suggestion.

“I don’t know if that’s a smart move or not. There’s a lot of budget cuts. There’s a lot of things we need to look at,” she says.

Some members of the audience had their opinion about not hiring an administrator.

“I’m shocked with the idea. There would be too many chiefs … you have to have one person in charge,” says Schmitt.

Winnebago Area Chamber president Scott Robertson says Nicollet and two cities share an administrator and the council should look at that option.

Former councilman Dennis Lynch says towns the size of Winnebago just have city clerks.

“The city would still have a boss. It’s not like there is not going to be someone in charge,” he says.

Johnson’s idea will be placed on the council’s meeting agenda for Tuesday night.