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Brass talks of merging assessors in city with the co.'s office

WILLMAR -- A Willmar City Council committee is supporting the concept of consolidating the City Assessing Office with the Kandiyohi County Assessor's Office.

The council's Labor Relations Committee will recommend the council approve the concept under which the City Assessing Office would close and the department's four employees would perform their duties at the County Assessor's Office in the downtown County Office Building.

City Administrator Michael Schmit discussed the concept Tuesday with the committee, and the committee voted to support the idea.

The concept will be presented to the full council on Sept. 7.

The concept is a direct result of the interest expressed by the council and Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners to review the ways things are being done and to be more efficient and effective, Schmit explained. The consolidation would become effective July 1, 2011. Affected city employees are Pat Erickson, assessor; Judy Thompson, appraiser; Krista Krupa, clerk appraisal assistant; and Sue Torison, appraiser 2.

Schmit said he's kept employees informed over the last few months. He wants the transition to be as seamless as possible and does not want employees' jobs and compensation harmed.

Committee members Doug Reese and Denis Anderson supported the concept. Committee member Tim Johnson asked if there would be cost savings to taxpayers.

Schmit proposed the city's assessing budget be transferred to the county during the first year of consolidation, and that the amount paid to the county be reduced by a certain percentage every year during a seven-year period. At the end of seven years, Schmit estimated the savings to the city at $300,000 to $400,000 a year.

The Kandiyohi County Board will receive the concept as information at the board's Sept. 7 meeting, said County Administrator Larry Kleindl. He told the Tribune that no action by the board will be requested.

In other business, the committee voted to approve a new position classification for Rick Johnson as supervisor of a three-member maintenance custodial team. They are responsible for cleaning and maintenance of city buildings.

The contract with Minnesota Council 65 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees requires the council to adopt new position classifications.

The city formerly had 4½ custodial positions, but a full-time employee retired and the position was not filled and a half-time position was eliminated. Johnson and two others have been working together well as a team on a trial basis during the past two months, said Schmit, and he proposed Johnson be named supervisor.

Also, the committee voted to adopt a new position classification of planner/airport manager for city planner Megan Sauer, who has also been acting airport manager.

The full-time airport manager's position was not filled after the former manager resigned and management responsibilities had recently been assigned to Sauer on a trial basis.

Airport maintenance issues are handled by Maximum Cruise Aviation, airport fixed base operator.

The committee then voted to close the meeting to discuss employment contract negotiations and strategies for 2011.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150