ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Willmar City Council approves salary increases for elected officials and fee increase for filing for office

Filing fees for those seeking elected office in the city of Willmar will increase to $20 from $5, and salary increases will put Willmar at the top of the list for comparable cities.

willmar-sign.jpg
The Willmar City Council has approved an ordinance to increase the filing fees for those running for city office. In addition, salaries for elected officials have been increased.
We are part of The Trust Project.

WILLMAR — Willmar City Council on Monday approved ordinances increasing elected officials' salaries.

The council also approved an increase in the filing fees for those running for city office, from the current $5 to a fee of $20.

Calvin
Marv Calvin, Willmar Mayor
Submitted photo

Both ordinances passed in a split 7-1 vote, with Councilors Julie Asmus, Rick Fagerlie, Michael O’Brien, Vicki Davis, Justin Ask, Audrey Nelsen and Andrew Plowman voting in favor, and Councilor Tom Butterfield voting against.

Cities the size of Willmar are allowed to charge candidates for elected office up to $40 when filing to run for office, according to City Operations Director Kyle Box. After discussion at the Oct. 17 City Council meeting, the council directed staff to set the filing fee at $20.

Starting in 2023, the mayor’s salary will increase to $19,250 from $12,000, and councilor salaries will increase to $12,500 from $7,500. The mayor pro tempore’s salary will increase from $500 to $750.

ADVERTISEMENT

When introducing the ordinance, Box noted that Willmar elected officials’ salaries are currently in the middle range of elected officials’ salaries in comparable cities.

The increase would put Willmar at the top of the list, but Box encouraged the council to consider how they value their time — and that of future elected officials — when considering the increase.

The last salary increases took place in 2006 and 1995, according to Box.

More by Jennifer Kotila:
In split 5-2 votes, Willmar City Council approved accepting a grant to construct an outdoor fitness court and applying for an Age-Friendly Minnesota Community grant.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place Wednesday for the nearly $10 million Events and Recreation Center at the Willmar Civic Center.
City Line Towing was seeking a licensing agreement to use land under the First Street bridge in Willmar as a thoroughfare between its Benson Avenue properties on either side of the bridge, but moved forward with building a fence and moving cars onto the land before an agreement was in place.
A 58-year-old Willmar woman was arrested Sunday for allegedly attempting to set fire to several government and health care service buildings around downtown Willmar Sunday morning.
Willmar residents were asked by Willmar Municipal Utilities to reduce their consumption of electricity on Dec. 23, 2022, and responded by saving one megawatt of power in the hour after being asked.
The new mayor of Willmar, along with newly-elected Councilor Carl Shuldes and re-elected councilors Vicki Davis, Audrey Nelsen and Rick Fagerlie, were sworn in at Monday's City Council meeting.
Willmar's new mayor, Doug Reese, and new city councilor, Carl Shuldes, will be sworn in at Monday's city council meeting, and re-elected councilors Vicki Davis, Rick Fagerlie and Audrey Nelsen will also take their oaths.
Solange Cooley started Ag Jobs in 2019 in Willmar and now employs more than 500 people, helping to fill a workforce shortage in the agricultural and manufacturing fields.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has identified Willmar as one of four highest-priority cities in Minnesota to construct an outdoor fitness court.
During a public hearing Dec. 19 regarding Willmar's 2023 street improvement project, residents opposed the installation of a new sidewalk along Grace Avenue Southwest, but were in favor of adding a sidewalk to 23rd Street Southeast.

During discussion at the Oct. 17 meeting, Calvin noted that when he was trying to solicit candidates to run for mayor after making the decision not to run, he reached out to about 20 people and was told numerous times that the city needs to increase the salary of elected officials.

He also noted that council members can decrease their salary at any time, but if they want an increase in salary it can only take place during general election years and must take place before the election.

“I think these numbers are good solid numbers and these are numbers I certainly would support. Certainly, the work that you all do, if you looked at your hourly time, you could probably figure out that you only make a couple bucks an hour,” Calvin commented. “It’s not unusual for me, as the mayor, to have 20-plus, probably close to 25 meetings a week.”

He noted that council members also take on a lot of good and hard work, and the increase would be a benefit to the city’s citizens.

Plowman, who did not seek re-election to his term ending this year, noted that he was contacted by several people who were interested in being council members and serving in that position, three of whom he honed in on thinking they would be good, solid candidates.

ADVERTISEMENT

Portrait of Andrew Plowman, Ward 1 Willmar City Council member whose term ends January 2023
Andrew Plowman
Contributed

“Their primary driver was definitely not (financial but) … it’s not a life-altering amount of money,” he said. “However, the one thing that they did all mention is, ‘we have families, we’re all busy, our time is worth something.’”

They knew that they would be doing something constructive and for the greater good, Plowman noted, but they also thought it would be nice to have some compensatory value added.
He noted that many people with young families have strained finances, with family members picking up additional part-time work to make ends meet or to just have some extra spending money.

“I think the last time that this was amended or that this was changed was a long time ago, and so I believe that whatever change would take place would last a long time into the future, I would assume. So, being on the front end of that I think would be OK,” he added.

Related:
Retiring president of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Ken Warner says he has enjoyed his time working for the Willmar business community.
DFL lawmakers fast-tracked abortion protections through the capitol to get a bill to the governor’s desk. Gov. Tim Walz said signing the protections into law is a top priority.
Diana Anderson has overseen a growing Southwest Initiative Foundation since she joined the organization in 2001. After nine years as its director, she is saying goodbye.
The daily average of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota jumped from a 378-case daily average to 760 cases a day in one week. Deaths have also increased to a daily average of 11 deaths a day.
Marriage licenses issued in Kandiyohi County
The Governor wants to tap the record state surplus and raise fishing license and other fees for a budget boost to modernize and address deferred infrastructure projects.
Retiring president of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Ken Warner says he has enjoyed his time working for the Willmar business community.
Minnesota Crop Improvement Association on Jan. 12 presented the Achievement in Crop Improvement Award to Paul Kjolhaug, part owner of the MayerSeedLine company, located in Willmar. Kurt Flegel, of Benson, was named a Premier Seed Grower.
Christianson PLLP has merged in DM Hoffbeck and will retain the current offices and staff of in Fairfax, Morgan and Redwood Falls.
A 22-year-old driver suffered non-life-threatening injuries after his car was run off the road by another vehicle on U.S. Highway 59, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

Jennifer Kotila is a reporter for West Central Tribune of Willmar, Minnesota. She focuses on local government, specifically the City of Willmar, and business.

She can be reached via email at: jkotila@wctrib.com or phone at 320-214-4339.
What To Read Next
Marcus Lee Ramos, 31, was convicted of unlawful possession of ammunition. The charge stemmed from a traffic stop on May 8, in which a Renville County deputy noticed a shotgun shell in the center console next to Ramos. Ramos was not allowed to possess any ammunition due to a previous felony conviction.
Area funerals scheduled through Feb. 2, 2023
The Tribune publishes Records as part of its obligation to inform readers about the business of public institutions and to serve as a keeper of the local historical record. All items are written by Tribune staff members based on information contained in public documents from the state court system and from law enforcement agencies. It is the Tribune’s policy that this column contain a complete record. Requests for items to be withheld will not be granted.
The administration is bringing back an Obama-era decision, later reversed by Trump, that bans new mineral leases on 225,500 acres of the Superior National Forest for the next two decades.