By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN Andrew Elbert accepted the Winsted city administrator position Wednesday, according to Shannon Sweeney of David Drown Associates who has been managing the hiring process for the city.
Elbert was the city’s first choice for the administrator position left vacant since May 15, when Brent Mareck accepted the position as City of Carver’s city administrator.
In a special meeting last Monday, the city council met to review a counteroffer Elbert had made to the City of Winsted’s original contract proposal of June 23.
In the original contract proposal, Elbert was to receive a base salary of $56,000 which was an increase to Elbert’s current salary as city administrator at Prairie City, IA, but in addition, he would have to pay an additional $2,000 out-of-pocket premium for health insurance at Winsted, something he did not have to do in Prairie City.
Elbert’s counteroffer included a base salary of $73,000, $6,000 in moving expenses, and a severance payment of 12 weeks, instead of the six Winsted had originally included. Elbert’s counteroffer, in total, was approximately $35,000 more than the city had originally proposed.
With his counteroffer, Elbert told Sweeney to tell the council that he was not just trying to sit back and see how much money he could get out of the City of Winsted. He was very interested in the position and he was very interested in working for the City of Winsted.
At the June 28 meeting, council member Tom Ollig told the other council members that the interviewing process and additional meetings. that have been required to determine the final two candidates, have cost the city at least $9,000.
“So I think we want to reach some kind of agreement with Andrew,” Ollig said. “By starting all over, we are going to spend another nine or 10 grand, and probably end up with the same people (candidates), less Andrew.”
Ollig suggested a base salary of $68,000, and the rest of the council agreed.
The $6,000 requested for moving expenses was received by the council with mixed feelings about the amount as well as its necessity.
“It is not uncommon to provide a moving expense in a professional environment,” Ollig said. “Six thousand dollars, to me, is a little steep. I agree with Tom (Wiemiller) and Bonnie (Quast) that something should be provided. You know, as a city, we have sought a person at this professional level, and we have done that to stay progressive and to stay professional as a city and as a city government. I would hate to think of losing him because we did not provide him anything for moving expenses. I would be willing to throw in a couple of thousand dollars.”
The council agreed on $2,000 for moving expenses.
The city’s counteroffer made to Elbert’s counteroffer was a base salary of $68,000, $2,000 for moving expenses, and a severance of eight weeks for the first two years.
Severance will be paid only if the city terminates Elbert’s contract for any reason other than for criminal acts.
The contract includes membership dues in the Minnesota City/County Management Association (MCCMA) and International City/County Management Association (ICCMA), plus attendance at the MCCMA conference, but not to the ICCMA conference.
Elbert will receive the same health insurance as all other city employees.
The revised proposed contract was, in total, approximately $14,000 more than the city’s original offer.
Mareck’s previous salary was mentioned on a few occasions as a comparison to what the city was offering Elbert.
Although Mareck left Winsted, after nine years, making $88,746 annually as its city administrator, his starting salary was $42,000.
The contract requires Elbert be ready to start his job as Winsted city administrator within 31 days from the date of acceptance.
Elbert told Sweeney he is in the process of selling his home and planning for the move.