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W’bago debates speed of hiring

By Staff | Oct 14, 2012

The process of hiring a city administrator has already hit a snag for the Winnebago City Council.

The council held the regular meeting on Tuesday to continue the discussion of hiring a new administrator and ended up canceling two of the three scheduled special meetings.

According to current City Administrator Austin Bleess, only four applications or resumes have been received, after the posting had disappeared from the League of Minnesota Cities website for a few days.

The council members saw this as an opportunity to adjust the tentative schedule they had set at a previous special meeting for hiring a replacement for Bleess.

“I think we need to take more time on this,” Councilman Scott Robertson says. “There are other ideas that we can explore before we rush into hiring someone.”

Robertson feels the personnel committee needs to ensure that they are hiring someone who plans to stay in the area for an extended period of time.

“I hope we can find someone to put down some roots here,”?he says.

Robertson also provided the council with other suggestions in regard to hiring a new administrator. He suggested the concept of sharing an administrator.

“We could look into a tri-city administrator,”?he says. “I’ve called around and people are using this and it works.”

He also said perhaps the council should consider going back to just having a city clerk.

Mayor Randy Nowak also expressed concerns about the process of hiring someone to fill the open position.

“I would like to bring a board of business owners, community members and council back as part of the interviewing process,”?he says.

This was a board that was used in the past when hiring a new administrator.

Nowak has also heard from several concerned citizens that the process has been rushed.

Councilwoman Stacy Huntington-Scofield disagreed. She doesn’t feel like they were rushing themselves by setting a timeline.

“We need something to achieve otherwise things will get strung out,”?she says. “If we set dates we have structure.”

Despite discussion, the council decided to cancel two of the special meetings.

They voted to keep the Thursday, Oct. 18 meeting.

“We need to have an interim, though, especially since we are deciding to take more time with this process,”?Huntington-Scofield adds.

Bleess has recommended two interim administrators, Dale Powers and Jim Brimeyer.

However, Powers has also applied to the full-time city administrator position and Bleess feels it could conflict having him work as the interim while also being considered for the full-time position.

The council agreed they should hire an interim but made no definite decisions and the matter has been tabled until the next special meeting on Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m.