HOWARD LAKE, MN Howard Lake City Council interviewed three finalists for the city administrator position Thursday night, but former City Administrator Nick Haggenmiller was the one who stood out from the rest.
Council members noted that all of the finalists were qualified, and any of them would have been an asset to the city.
Haggenmiller’s familiarity with the city and its needs appeared to give him the edge, based on comments from council members.
Haggenmiller set the tone of the interview from the beginning, making it clear in his introductory statement that he did not expect to be chosen solely because of his past experience with the city.
“I’m very grateful to be sitting here,” Haggenmiller said. “I don’t view it as a formality. I’m very grateful that you folks are willing to give me a shot at this position once again, so it is not something I’m taking for granted. It’s not something that I feel is a given, in any capacity.”
Haggenmiller exuded confidence during the interview, particularly when talking about his ability to hit the ground running, and his knowledge about ongoing projects in the city, many of which were started during his tenure as administrator from 2012 to 2014.
Haggenmiller has been serving as Howard Lake’s interim city administrator since Oct. 14, after the council approved hiring him in that capacity the night before.
In addition to referring to work he did in the city previously, Haggenmiler shared examples of some of his accomplishments as Northfield’s city administrator over the past two years.
He made reference to how the experience he has gained since his last stint in Howard Lake would help him to do some things differently if he returned to the city.
Council Member Mike Mitchell agreed.
“I think he’d do a better job the second time, and he did an awesome job the first time,” Mitchell commented after all the interviews were complete.
Council Member Tom Kutz said the residents he has talked to would welcome Haggenmiller back.
Council members voiced praise for the work Haggenmiller did while working for the city, and seemed more concerned about convincing him to slow down long enough to take a vacation than they were about his ability to do the job.
The other two finalists were:
• Diane Miller
Miller has 15 years of experience in public administration, and has worked as a consultant in the areas of accounting and finance. She is the former city manager of the City of Canby.
• Rebecca Schrupp
Schrupp has been city administrator for the City of Clarkfield in southwest Minnesota for the past two years.
She has master’s degrees in business and accounting.
The council asked each candidate the same 14 questions, including why they are interested in the position, what makes them the best candidate, how they have dealt with challenging situations, what is their leadership style, how they view the relationship between the city administrator position and the city council, how they plan to get involved in the community, and more.
Candidates were given the opportunity to ask questions of the council, as well.
After discussion, the council, by consensus, agreed to make a job offer to Haggenmiller.
The council directed the personnel committee (Zimmerman and Munson) to prepare a draft contract based on the salary Haggenmiller was receiving at the time he resigned as Howard Lake’s city administrator in 2014.
Any agreement will need to be approved by the full council at its next regular meeting.
Council Member Jan Gilmer said he doesn’t think the city should give Haggenmiller a moving allowance, as it did when he was hired the first time.
Zimmerman said the contract will include a probationary period.