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Municipal Utilities Commission OKs general manager employment agreement

Wesley Hompe speaks during his final interview Aug. 27 for Willmar Municipal Utilities general manager. The Utility Commission approved the employment agreement with Hompe Monday. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission has approved the employment agreement with Wesley Hompe as general manager.

Hompe, former staff electrical engineer and interim co-manager, was appointed general manager by the commission Aug. 27 to fill the vacancy created by the termination of former general manager Bruce Gomm earlier this year, but the employment agreement had yet to be finalized.

The commission had tabled the agreement at the Sept. 10 meeting because President Dave Baker said a few minor details needed to be addressed.

The commission's Labor Committee discussed and reviewed the agreement Sept. 14 and committee chair Matt Schrupp presented the six-page agreement to the commissioners on Monday for their approval.

Schrupp said the committee met with Hompe and received additional comment from Springsted Inc. employment consultant David Unmacht and City Attorney Robert Scott.

Agreement highlights include starting salary of $115,000 and days off and vacation time consistent with employee policy. Hompe currently owns and operates Hompe Engineering LLC, which the agreement says will not interfere with utility responsibilities and will not have any clients in common with Willmar Utilities.

The agreement calls for a performance evaluation after six months and annual evaluations thereafter. The agreement will pay membership dues and subscription fees to civic, governmental and professional organizations as are reasonably necessary and desirable for Hompe's participation.

The agreement provides payment of mileage for use of his private vehicle at the present IRS rate.

Also, the commission may terminate Hompe with cause or without cause by an affirmative vote of at least four members of the seven-member commission. If Hompe is terminated without cause, he will be entitled to six months of his current salary and continuation of his group insurance benefits for six months.

Schrupp said the terms of the termination clause are standard and have been reviewed by several people. Baker said Scott had a chance to review the contract, and Scott said it looks fine.

The commission voted to take the agreement off the table and then voted to approve the agreement.

Baker thanked Hompe for working with the commission on the agreement.

"It was a very easy process and I think very fair for what we have,'' he said. Baker repeated Hompe will not receive a car allowance but will be reimbursed for actual work-related mileage.

Bruce DeBlieck, City Council liaison to the utility, asked if City Administrator Charlene Stevens had reviewed the agreement and Baker said Stevens had looked at it. Scott said Stevens wanted to make sure that he, as city attorney, had a chance to "weigh in'' before the agreement came to the commission for final approval.

In other business, Schrupp said the Labor Committee reviewed slight changes made to the job description for the director of finance position that will be vacant when Tess Stoffel, accounting supervisor, retires. The job description was previously approved by the commission.

Schrupp said Hompe has identified an outline for moving forward with that position.

Also, Schrupp said the Labor Committee discussed the question of whether Scott, whose law firm is in St. Paul, must be present at each commission meeting. Scott's firm was selected by the City Council in March to provide legal counsel after Rich Ronning, longtime city attorney, retired.

Scott has been present at the commission's twice-a-month meetings since his first meeting April 9. Schrupp said the committee felt Scott's participation is important, but the committee did not necessarily think that Scott needs to be in attendance at every meeting.

He said the committee recommended Scott attend via teleconference from his office. Baker recommended Scott be present, however, if a legal issue is coming before the commissioners.

Baker said he discussed the issue with Scott. Baker said having Scott drive to Willmar to attend many of the meetings "isn't necessarily prudent with our dollars.'' When meetings are called to order, the commission will make certain Scott is present and accounted for on the telephone, said Baker.

Commissioners favored the recommendation. Scott said he will provide whatever type of service the commission desires and however the commission wishes. Scott said the commission will save about $700 a month in travel time and mileage expenses by using teleconference.

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