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Search for Wells administrator begins

By Staff | Nov 19, 2017

With Wells’ former city administrator gone, the city and its staff have been working hard at not only finding a replacement as quickly as possible, but also at keeping up with the hefty amounts of work Robin Leslie did as Wells’ city administrator.

In their regular meeting last Monday, the Wells City Council had a special guest from the South Central Service Cooperative (SCSC) Wendell Sande, a representative of the co-op who came to assist the city in finding a new city administrator.

Sande brought a proposed schedule for the council to look over in order to create and complete a search for a new city administrator. Sande said it would take approximately 90 days to initiate and complete a search.

“We would utilize regional and national publications to bring in potential candidates. After sorting through those, we would reduce our search down to six candidates, and then after those top six candidates are chosen, three will be finalists who would interview with the council and then meet with the public as well,” said Sande. “And hopefully, at that time, we will be able to choose a candidate that best suits the needs for the city administrator position here in Wells.”

Councilwoman Whitney Harig questioned whether a personality test is available for the candidates.

“I just know we have had some issues in the past and I know other cities have used something similar,” she said.

Sande informed the council a personality test is available, for an additional cost to the city.

“I think it is at least worth looking into,” said Harig. “We want to be able to have someone that best fits our city and its needs.”

As for the city’s needs one of them is money. After Robin Leslie’s departure, the city had to pay for the rest of Leslie’s contract, leaving quite a hole in the city’s budget.

During public comment, citizen Rick Christianson was one to mention the large pay off.

“I just am curious how that contract between Ms. Leslie and the city came to be. We are a small town and that was some pretty hefty money to be paying her. It was quite an excessive cost,” he said. “Now, this council mentioned that this wouldn’t happen again, and I just hope the council keeps its word. We are a small community, and we cannot afford that type of pay out. I hope there will be a much larger review process put in place after this.”

Mayor David Braun stepped in to remark on Christianson’s inquiries.

“We did say that this council will not let that happen again,” said Braun. “I cannot speak for past councils or future councils, but this council will not let that happen.”

SCSC’s entire process to rehire a new city administrator for the city is projected to take until March of 2018, if not longer.

The council requested the process between the city and SCSC be pushed back another two weeks in order for the council to review Leslie’s contract in detail and compare it to not only previous Wells city administrators, but other surrounding area city administrators as well. The hope, through examining the contract, is to create a contract that best fits the needs and the budget of the city.

In other business, while winter looms around the corner, contracted workers at the new Wells Business Park site are still racing to finish before the snow flies. However, the crew from Swenke Ims Contracting, LLC, of the Kasson area, is still finishing, though the agreement was to be finished by Nov. 1.

City engineer Travis Winter stated the excavation team would have to submit a time extension request to the city along with a reason for the delay, starting Nov. 1 until the first stage of the project is completed.

Winter says the crew has completely finished on-site storm sewers, along with grading and graveling the pond.

However, the digging of the pond has become somewhat of an issue as to whether or not it will be completed this year.

“We have had such crazy weather with this fall, with the record-breaking rains and the snowfall and temperatures, it’s been hard getting a dozer to get any traction,” said Winter. “We also still have to get the turning lanes done.”

“To be fair,” interrupted councilman John Herman, “They are out there everyday, even on Saturdays to get it done.”

As for the budget of the city, the council met not only an hour before the City Council’s regular meeting but also an hour and a half afterward to discuss 2018’s budget.

Included in the conversation were next year’s street projects, the continuation of the Wells Business Park, the Wells Flame Theatre ticket pricing, as well as a number of infrastructure projects and educational opportunities for city staff and other administration.

No action was taken during the 2018 budget work session.