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Willmar, Minn., Labor Committee OKs filling vacant assessing position

WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council's Labor Committee is recommending the council fill a vacant full-time position in the Assessing Department with an individual from among current employees.

The council will consider the recommendation on Tuesday.

The committee this week recommended the opening be posted internally and filled by promoting a clerical employee. The duties and responsibilities of that clerical position would then be shifted to other employees and the vacant clerical position would not be filled.

If no one from current staff is interested in the promotion to the assessing position, city staff will return to the committee with other options, said City Administrator Charlene Stevens.

Up until recently, the Assessing Department had three full-time positions and a part-time seasonal data entry position. The full-time vacancy occurred after an employee resigned about three months ago to take an assessing position with Kandiyohi County.

The individual holding the part-time position has indicated she will not return after the end of this year.

The full-time assessing position is one of three vacancies that occurred this year that city department heads have asked the council to fill. The other two were a wastewater plant operator and an engineering technician-surveyor.

The council did agree to fill the wastewater operator vacancy, but has taken no action on the other two positions while city staff looked at various options.

City officials began looking at options, such as cooperating with Kandiyohi County and contracting with private companies, after Mayor Frank Yanish announced in July he would agree to fill only two positions.

During a recent Labor Committee meeting, Yanish told committee members it was up to them to determine how the vacancies would be handled.

During this week's Labor Committee discussion of the assessing vacancy, City Clerk-Treasurer Kevin Halliday said a partnership with the county was not viable at this time.

Halliday said the private sector was considered as an option, but he said private appraisers indicated to him that they would not be interested in obtaining the necessary certifications to conduct mass appraisals for the city.

Stevens told the committee that assessing has become more complex over the years and the desire of citizens to have a better product has increased demands on staff.

Halliday said further variables of accomplishing uncompleted tasks under the current staff shortfall would be to send some workload to different departments such as accounting for special assessments.

The technician-surveyor position in the engineering department remains vacant. Stevens told the Tribune the city issued requests and has received proposals from private companies to perform surveying services. She said the city is analyzing the proposals.

The council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the chambers at the Municipal Utilities Building, 700 Litchfield Ave. S.W.

Also on the agenda will be presentation of Safe Cities Designation by Brad Hanson of Willmar Ambulance Service and hearings to assess unpaid costs of weed and grass mowing and garbage removal on certain private properties.

The council will receive reports of the Finance Committee, the Public Works/Safety Committee and Community Development Committee.

The council will consider the preliminary plat of Mills Second Addition for proposed development of a car dealership, car wash, future convenience store and developable lot on Highway 71 South.

Also, the council will consider nominating Richard Halterman to the Charter Commission, replacing Bob Bonawitz who resigned, and approving a liquor license for Hoja Restaurant, 1704 First St. S. The restaurant serves Asian cuisine and is located in the former Wendy's building.

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