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Willmar, Minn., Council gives OK for seeking proposals for city organizational study

WILLMAR — The Willmar City Council will seek proposals from firms to study the city’s organizational structure.

Besides requesting proposals for an organizational study, the council will request proposals for a compensation study. The last compensation study was performed in 2001, according to records found by City Administrator Charlene Stevens.

The studies were recommended by the council’s Labor Relations Committee and approved by the council this week.

Council member Denis Anderson said a compensation study is probably appropriate but he was not sure it makes sense to do it as part of the organizational study because the two studies are different and not all firms have the ability and capacity do both types of studies.

“That is a rather unique expertise needed. I hope that the firms wouldn’t not bid because they can’t do that part,’’ Anderson said.

Ron Christianson asked why the compensation study was proposed. He said all companies might not do compensation studies. “If we’re going to get a bid from them, shouldn’t we be going out to companies that just do compensation studies?’’

Stevens said firms do not have to bid on the compensation study in order to be considered for the organizational study.

“We can determine the best qualified proposal. If they bid on the alternate (compensation study), we can take that into consideration. If they do not bid on the alternate and we still feel they are best for the organizational analysis, we can make that determination,’’ she said.

If firms choose not to bid on the compensation study, she said, the city could reissue the request as a separate proposal. She said some firms can’t handle both parts and it is sometimes two different skill sets. But she said firms can partner with another firm for the compensation study.

Stevens said the compensation study came about as a result of a citizen’s suggestion at the committee level. Stevens said her original scope of work and timeframe provided to the committee did not include the compensation study.

One objective of the organizational study is to assess the workplace culture and solicit feedback from employees.

Labor Committee Chairman Steve Ahmann said the city might as well conduct the compensation study as long as employees are being asked for feedback. Ahmann said if firms choose not to submit the alternate, that’s their choice.

As long as firms have the option of not submitting the alternate, Anderson said, he was fine with it.

Other organizational study objectives:

- Review and identify gaps or duplication in the existing organizational structure.

- Propose options for new organizational structure.

- Identify opportunities for intergovernmental cooperation.

- Succession planning.

- Recommendations on business practices and processes.

- Assess the city’s customer service.

Later in the meeting, Christianson said he doesn’t oppose looking at an organizational study as he voted for it. Christianson said he has always been in favor of finding new ways to collaborate with Kandiyohi County and other entities for cost savings.

But Christianson said he believes this particular study “came about in an unacceptable manner pushed by a special interest group that really doesn’t have a clue where they are going but wants to tell us, the driver, when and where to turn.’’

He was referring to Moving Willmar Forward, a group of 15 business people and citizens concerned about the current state of affairs within and outside city government. The group recommended the study at the Dec. 3 council meeting.

“My constituents are telling me not to be bullied by this group but to keep representing Ward 2 and the city in general in the manner that I have,’’ he said.

“None of my constituents have called me and say this study should be done right now. Actually I think this has been a nuisance and a diversion, taking us away from real city issues about train noise, storm water problems, crime in neighborhoods, etc.,’’ he said.

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