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W’bago tables pay hike

By Staff | Feb 14, 2016

What started as an employee review and possible pay raise at the Winnebago City Council meeting last Tuesday night, ended up being tabled after a 20-minute discussion and no decision being made.

City administrator Chris Ziegler reported that he and the personnel committee had completed a review of deputy city clerk Jessi Sturtz.

“I would like to recommend a two-step (salary) increase for Jessi on the anniversary date of her employment with the city,” Ziegler said. “And another step increase when she completes year two at the Minnesota Municipal Clerk’s Institute.”

Ziegler praised Sturtz’ work and said the city is lucky to have her as an employee.

And, while two city council members agreed that Sturtz is an asset to the city, they had plenty of questions about her review.

Council member Dean Johnson even suggested the meeting be closed to the public for “personnel issues” so the council could be apprised of the details of her review.

“Before I feel comfortable voting on this, I need more information on the review how it was conducted and what are the results,” Johnson said. “If someone asks me why she deserves a raise, I’d like to have the information as to why.”

Ziegler said he would be very uncomfortable closing the meeting for this purpose, unless they could check with their city attorney, David Frundt, who was not present. And, the meeting was not closed.

Johnson said he felt Sturtz was doing a “fabulous job” as city clerk, but that he needed to know the details of her job and how her evaluation was conducted before he could vote on any pay increase.

“I will be more comfortable with more information,” Johnson said.

Council member Jean Anderson agreed.

“I have only good things to say about you and the job you do,” Anderson said to Sturtz. “But I also want to know what the review was, in order to explain to the public when they come to us, why you deserve a pay raise.”

Mayor Jeremiah Schutt said if the council members felt strongly about this, they could table it, and they did. The vote to table the matter was 2-1, with Johnson and Anderson voting yes, and councilman Scott Robertson voting no. Councilman Rick Johnson was absent.

Robertson said he felt this was a case of micro-managing.

“I just don’t like being second guessed,” Robertson said. “Our personnel committee went over this in detail. But, if you want to table it, go ahead.”

Johnson said he really did not want to delay this decision and wanted to keep good employees, but he said it was important to have the proper information before making any decision.

Mayor Schutt had one final word for the council.

“I think you need to have more confidence in our committee and in our city administrator,” Mayor Schutt added after the vote.