By Starrla Cray
WINSTED At its work session June 19, Winsted City Council members considered options for handling the upcoming city administrator vacancy, since current administrator Dan Tienter recently accepted a position as director of finance for the City of Fridley.
The council gave direction on two questions. First, how should the city handle the search process for a new administrator? And second, who should serve as the city’s leader in the interim? The council plans to vote on these questions at the Tuesday, July 3 meeting.
Based on the work session discussion Tuesday, the general consensus was to hire DDA Human Resources, Inc. (David Drown Associates) to conduct the new administrator search. The lead consultant would be Gary Weiers, who has worked with the City of Winsted for the past few city administrator searches.
The proposed cost for the 14-week process is $16,000, but the council directed Tienter to see if there are items that can be omitted to reduce the total cost and shorten the timeline.
The council considered conducting the search internally, which would cost an estimated $10,831 and take about 144 hours of staff time. Mayor Steve Stotko said he was initially leaning toward this option, but after analyzing all that is involved, he thinks it is a better idea to hire an outside consultant. Council Member Tom Ollig agreed, saying that if the internal search process doesn’t work, it could end up costing more in the long run.
Tienter also recommended hiring a consultant. He said city staff will already be taking on extra duties in his absence, and adding the search for an administrator would cause “unnecessary added stress.” Also, city employees who are interested in applying for the administrator position would be excluded from the process.
Current employees have indicated to Tienter that they are potentially interested in the city administrator position, and Tienter said he would not be surprised if they apply for the job. Any internal candidates would go through the same application/interview process as external candidates.
The process involves panel interviews, an interview exercise, a personality and intellectual profile, individual interviews with city council members, a city tour, lunch with city staff, a background investigation (academic, employment, credit, and criminal), a drug/alcohol test, and a review of references.
Regardless of which recruitment process the city council chooses, the some of the cost will be offset by savings from the administrator vacancy. A 14-week vacancy would save about $14,546 in salary and benefits, according to a memo from Tienter.
During the vacancy, the city will incur some cost for an acting city administrator. The wage has not been determined yet. When Mayor Steve Stotko took on this role in 2013, the approved wage was $20 per hour, with no additional benefits.
Stotko said he is not interested in serving as acting administrator this time, but he would be willing to meet with city engineering firm Bolton & Menk as needed.
City Council Member Patty Fitzgerald said she would be interested in the position, and would approach it the same as the management roles she had during her career. Council consensus was to approve this temporary arrangement at the Tuesday, July 3 meeting.
Tienter’s last day as administrator in Winsted will be Friday, July 6.