Search for permanent administrator is underway
By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN The Winsted City Council appointed Mayor Steve Stotko as temporary acting city administrator during Tuesday’s council meeting, effective after current administrator Brad Martens leaves for a position in Corcoran Saturday, July 6.
“I don’t think we could possibly find a better person,” Council Member Bonnie Quast said.
Stotko plans to fill the position until a permanent city administrator is hired, most likely by the end of September. Stotko will continue to serve as mayor and run council meetings during this time, but will abstain from voting on related matters.
City Attorney Fran Eggert said there are no legal issues with having Stotko serve in this capacity, but the public could perceive it as a conflict.
Council members said they feel comfortable having Stotko in this position, because they trust him and his knowledge of the city.
“There are a number of projects the city is involved in right now, and we need to keep moving forward,” Council Member Tom Ollig said, listing the new industrial park, skating rink, revolving loan fund distribution, and 2014 budget planning as a few examples.
“My true passion is to be part of the council, not part of the staff,” Stotko said. “If there was a conflict, I would do the right thing, and that would be to step aside. I’m not going to do anything bad for Winsted.”
Stotko’s hours as acting administrator will likely vary day to day, depending on the city’s needs. An hourly wage of between $15 and $20 was suggested at the work session.
Martens, who currently makes $35.36 per hour, said that if one factors in the cost of health insurance (which Stotko will not receive), the city would be paying less than half of what it is now. Stotko’s compensation will be finalized at the Tuesday, July 2 council meeting.
The city is paying search firm David Drown Associates $8,000 to facilitate the process of hiring a new administrator, a cost the city plans to offset by not paying a full time administrator in the interim.
The application deadline for the permanent city administrator position is Monday, July 8.
David Drown Associates plans to review and rank applicants later that week, and, with the help of Stotko, select candidates for initial interviews.
The fourth week of July, up to 10 candidates will be interviewed by a panel consisting of two city council members, two or three department heads, Clerk Deb Boelter, and a community member.
From there, three finalists will be determined. Each of them will undergo an extensive background check, which will verify employment, education, and references, and check for any criminal background.
Final interviews will take place with the council mid-August, and will include a luncheon with all staff, as well as a tour of the city facilitated by Stotko.
The projected start date for a new administrator is Monday, Sept. 23.
New truck lights
In other matters, the council approved a quote of $4,991 plus tax from Towmaster in Litchfield to install additional warning lights on the city’s 1999 Sterling single-axle dump truck, as a safety precaution.
The truck is already being taken in for repairs related to normal wear and tear from the snow removal season. The lights were requested now due to a $10-per-hour labor discount the company has in June, as well as the efficiency of doing multiple improvements at the same time.
The council approved a $625-$675 quote from the Herald Journal for a one-time set-up fee and staff training to establish a city news feed. Although there is an upfront charge, the city’s monthly website cost will decrease.
With the news feed, city staff will have the ability to make timely posts to its website, with the goal of increasing communication between residents and the city.
“The public is becoming more and more Internet savvy, and this is a way to do it,” Ollig said.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Council Member Max Fasching said. “It’s the way everything’s progressing.”
Residents who don’t have Internet access at home have the option of using a computer at the Winsted Public Library or obtaining records directly from city hall, the council added.
The council did not approve two other portions of the quote from Herald Journal, which included creating a link for all city posts to the Herald Journal website for $189 per month, as well as publishing city council minutes in the Herald Journal newspaper at a rate of $1.46 per line, capped at $75 per meeting.
Audit for 2012
“I think all of your funds are looking very good, other than your sewer fund, which we’ve talked about in the past,” accountant Paul Harvego of Conway, Deuth & Schmiesing told the council during his report of the city’s 2012 audit.
In Winsted’s sewer fund, expenditures showed an increase last year due to state requirements, bond interest increases, and repairs.
“A lot of these things are out of your control; it’s just the way things are,” Harvego said.
Losses were recorded in the sewer fund for both 2011 and 2012.
In contrast, the city’s water fund is doing well, with a cash buildup that can be used for emergencies, capital purchases, and bond payments.
Winsted’s other funds, including the general fund, are also in a stable financial position, according to Harvego.
“I really like working with the city of Winsted,” Harvego said. “Your staff is very easy to work with, and they’re always striving to improve.”
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, July 16 during the regular city council meeting to consider a resolution allowing Ridgeview Medical Center to use Winsted as a conduit for about $8.57 million in tax exempt bonds. If approved, Winsted will be compensated $5,000 for this effort. The city will not have any added liability.
“The city has helped Ridgeview in this way before,” a Ridgeview representative stated at the meeting.
• was introduced to Mike Donnelly, the area’s new Waste Management representative. Donnelly has been with the company 5.5 years. His office is in Blaine, and he travels to Winsted at least one day each week.
• appointed Jordan Wolfe and Tim Fury to the park commission, each with terms expiring Dec. 31, 2016.
• appointed Don “Chip” Guggemos Jr. as chair of the Downtown Vibrancy Commission for 2013, and Joe Swanson as vice chair.
• appointed Dan Brossard as part-time temporary brush site attendant.
• adopted a resolution to accept a $480 donation from CR Electric for Winsted Fire Department office improvements.
• heard a request from a resident of Fairlawn Avenue to run the aerator on Winsted Lake more often this summer to reduce algae and odor. Martens said the reason it ran less often last year was to save money.
“It has a pretty significant electrical draw,” he explained.
Ollig said it might be a good idea to run the aerator more often if it helps promote activity by the lake.
Martens plans to contact the aerator installers to see what has been planned for this summer, and work out a solution.