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Willmar, Minn., Utilities Commission will meet to select firm to conduct assessment

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission will hold a special meeting at noon on Thursday to select a firm to conduct an organizational and management assessment of the utilities. The commission will meet in the chambers at the utilities office.

Two weeks ago, commissioners received but took no action on three consultants' proposals to assess the utility's organizational structure, identify the organization's strengths and weaknesses, and identify present and future opportunities and challenges.

Commissioners said they would study the proposals for discussion Jan. 9 but the meeting was moved up to Thursday. The commission's Labor Committee met Dec. 13 and gave consideration to contact management firms to perform the assessment.

The three proposals, and the proposed costs, from the consultants are Springsted Inc., $7,750; McCarthy Consulting, $10,000 to $15,000; and Schulte Associates, $35,000.

In other business, the commission will elect officers for 2012. Officers for 2011 were Doug Lindblad, president; Dave Baker, vice president; Marv Kray, secretary; and Steve Salzer, treasurer.

Lindblad, who has served on the commission since 2005 and has served as president since 2009, had submitted a letter of resignation effective the end of 2011 to Mayor Frank Yanish. But because the Utilities Commission is dealing with management issues including possible disciplinary action against General Manager Bruce Gomm, who was placed on a 30-day administrative leave last month, Yanish said he asked Lindblad to stay on the commission until March 31, 2012. Yanish said Lindblad agreed to stay another three months.

"I didn't think it was great to be changing horses in the middle of the stream, and Doug is the president,'' Yanish told the Tribune after the City Council adjourned its Tuesday night meeting.

"I appreciate the fact that he's willing to stay until March 31. By that time, all the issues should be resolved.''

Carol Laumer was appointed by Yanish and approved by the City Council at the Dec. 19 council meeting to replace Kray whose term on the commission expired on Dec. 31, 2011.

Matt Schrupp was reappointed on Dec. 19 to a second three-year term on the commission.