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Review scheduled for W’bago administrator

By Staff | Dec 12, 2010

Austin Bleess

The past several months has been a learning experience for Winnebago’s city administrator.

On Tuesday, Austin Bleess finds out how well he’s been doing.

“There’s a lot of work, but it’s fun. So, it doesn’t seem like work,” he says.

A job performance evaluation is part of the City Council’s regular meeting agenda.

Bleess was hired in June and has been working under a six-month probationary period.

Although being a city administrator hasn’t provided any real surprises, he says, it has been challenging at times.

Such as working on the 2011 budget when it’s uncertain how much the city actually will receive in state aid.

“I have a great staff. Also, if I have any questions there other city administrators or the League of Minnesota Cities I can go to,” he says. “There isn’t anything I haven’t been able to figure out with the resources I have.”

At press time, Bleess had not yet decided whether his evaluation would be conducted in closed-session or open to the public.

“I’ll probably wait to the last minute on what to do,” he says.

For an annual evaluation the council measures performance on a scale of exceeds, meets, sometimes meets or does not meet expectations.

Each council member rates the administrator in 17 different areas such as quality, initiative, leadership, productivity and problem solving and also may offer supportive comments.

But, for a six-month review the process is not as detailed.

Generally, the council closes the meeting to the public to allow each member to give a verbal assessment on how the administrator is doing.

If Bleess is taken off probationary status that could mean more money.

The council’s longest serving member, Dana Gates, says past administrators getting a favorable review were given a pay raise. Also, he doesn’t expect the council to enter into a written agreement with Bleess.

“Historically, the last administrators I’ve been involved with, the city has not had a contract with them,” he says. “That’s going to have to be up to the full council to decide.”

Bleess is currently earning an annual salary of $47,500.