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Wells close to hiring an administrator

By Staff | Apr 15, 2018

Is Wells close to having a new city administrator? Maybe.

Last Friday, April 6, the Wells city administrator hiring committee met and interviewed five candidates for the city’s open position.

“Originally, we had six candidates, but only five showed,” said city councilwoman Crystal Dulas during Wells’ regular City Council meeting last Monday.

She was one of five assigned to the hiring committee.

“There was one candidate that really stood out to us, and we questioned whether we needed to do a second round of interviews to figure out what we already know,” she said.

What Dulas shared with the council is that the hiring committee “already knows” they feel this one specific candidate could fit into the Wells community nicely and questioned whether the committee could narrow down the interview process in order to fill the position sooner than their alloted timeline.

City attorney David Frundt mentioned that the Wells City Council would have to interview the final candidate or candidates, however, if the recommendation from the committee would be to interview only one or two candidates from the five that were interviewed on Friday, the council would be able to follow that recommendation.

“Chris Holl of Pelican Rapids is the only finalist at this point,” was a statement made by Wendell Sande, a representative from the South Central Service Cooperative. “The committee had a strong consensus about this specific candidate.”

Pelican Rapids, Minnesota is of similar size to Wells and, according to what Dulas shared with the council, this candidate has worked in two communities in the last 20 years, has worked on the city council in both of those communities, owned a total of eight Subway restaurants, and has been a part of a planning and zoning board, and is familiar with the concepts of a housing redevelopment authority board.

“We feel he has a strong personality, but not too strong. He was very much a people person,” said Dulas. “There were three candidates that had potential but perhaps not enough experience, and two did not even come close.”

The council then discussed the potential contracts for the job. Previously, the position stated the pay range was between $60,000-70,000 annually. The council wanted to not only put an exact number with the contract, but a full list of city benefits the new city administrator would receive as well.

Sande, who has been working with the city during this hiring process, stated to the committee he would share some similar contracts of cities which are of the same size of Wells to compare. Frundt would also be providing some examples of contracts for the council to look over.

While health insurance coverage, as well as benefits such as sick leave and paid holidays were still up in the air, the council did minimize the pay range from $60,000-$70,000 to $62,000-$63,500 depending on experience.

“It’s easier to go up than it is to go down,” remarked John Herman who ran the meeting with their mayor absent due to illness.

The council was adamant about not permitting comp time in the contract due to previous experience from their former city administrator.

The council voted to set a special closed-session meeting for Friday, April 13 at 5 p.m. to discuss further details of the contract and hopefully complete a contract before the next round of city administrator interviews.

The council did not vote to hire Holl, but merely voted on setting a special meeting to go over the city administrator hiring agreement.

“I expect they will attempt an agreement specifically with him,” Sande told the Faribault County Register. “The hiring committee did also agree to have the individual meet with the community at some point in the near future.”

In other business, bids for the Sixth Street SW project were opened Friday, April 6. According to Wells’ city engineer Travis Winter the city received six bids from contractors.

“We had concrete and bituminous alternates to look at the difference in pricing between the two, and we did figuring on a 30-year pavement life,” said Winter. “With all of that information, GM Contracting out of Lake Crystal was the lowest bidder for both concrete and bituminous.”

Winter said water and sewer piping was added between Fifth and Sixth streets because the current state of the pipes were in poor condition.

“We also upsized the pipes in order for the uptake of the pipe to fit more modern designs,” said Winter.

With Dulas abstaining from the vote, and Mayor Braun not present at the meeting due to illness, Brenda Weber, Whitney Harig, and John Herman all voted in favor of accepting the low bid of bituminous pavement from GM Contracting at $1,957,640.01.

The council also:

Approved a street closure request for Thursday, Aug. 16, in regard to an activity for Kernel Days.

Heard from Donn Browne of the Wells Rifle and Pistol Club, who requested to move their archery area on the club’s property. Street foreman Mike Pyzick suggested Browne consult the tri-city utilities to ensure moving the archery area would be ok.

Set their next regular City Council meeting for April 23, at 5 p.m.