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Utility open to the idea of a shared HR position with the city of Willmar, Minn.

WILLMAR — Willmar Municipal Utilities General Manager Wesley Hompe and Commission President Steve Salzer say the utility is open to the idea of sharing a human resources position with the city of Willmar.

Hompe and Salzer made their views known during the commission’s regular meeting Monday.

Hompe said he has generally discussed the idea with City Administrator Charlene Stevens but nothing had been decided. Salzer said he was asked to request an update from Hompe about the shared HR idea.

Salzer’s request follows a City Council motion approved Aug. 20 to discuss the possibility of establishing a joint human relations position with the utility.

Stevens said during that special session that she has had those discussions with the utility and she did not think the utility was ready for a fully-shared position at this time.

Hompe told the commission that he has talked to Stevens about a shared HR position and at that time the city had not done an action plan on its organizational study.

During last week’s special session, the council took no action on a consultant’s recommended organizational structure but voted to keep the present structure and to explore the joint HR position.

Hompe said he told Stevens that because of all the personnel being hired to fill new and open positions and retirements, the utility has to continue moving forward.

“If and when the city was able to get somebody on board, we’d definitely get back into discussions and see if we can make something mutually beneficial,’’ Hompe told the commission. “But as we are right now, we’re continuing to move forward because we have no choice.’’

Salzer also said the utility needs to move forward.

“If the city gets somebody on board, we’ll have that discussion again,’’ he said.

Commissioner Joe Gimse said it appears to him that the city is looking for a partner in making the decision to hire an HR person, rather than hiring somebody and then looking for partners.Gimse said he concept of a joint HR person.

Bruce DeBlieck, council liaison to the utility, said the city and utility each have HR responsibilities spread throughout a number of individuals for their own departments in their organizations.

Hompe said the discussion with Stevens was relatively general.

“We both realize we need an HR function. The utility can’t  justify having a full-time HR person. I understand that and I don’t think you folks would allow that to happen,’’ Hompe said.

“Maybe between the two organizations a full-time HR person would be justified. We haven’t gone too deep into that as far as the details. We are definitely open to partner,’’ said Hompe.

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