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Willmar council votes to make offer to interim administrator

WILLMAR--While the individual's name is not public until the contract is approved Monday, the Willmar City Council decided this week to make an offer to an interim city administrator.

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WILLMAR-While the individual's name is not public until the contract is approved Monday, the Willmar City Council decided this week to make an offer to an interim city administrator.

"This is a part of our job that is not fun. It's unfortunate we have to deal with these situations again, but the lights will be on, the toilets will flush and the services will continue," Councilman Steve Ahmann said at Wednesday's labor committee meeting.

The City Council, which met as the labor committee both Wednesday and Thursday, considered three candidates. The names were provided to the city by the League of Minnesota Cities and were vetted by Mayor Marv Calvin and Councilman Ron Christianson.

The motion to offer a contract was unanimously approved Thursday.

The individual chosen has 38 years of experience in city administration, 28 of them as a city administrator or city manager, Calvin said Wednesday.

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Calvin said the individual had worked on major projects with budgets in the $20 million range, including a 26-mile sewer project. He also has experience with city hall renovation and construction projects, having worked on three, Calvin said.

With his experience, the individual feels the interim job at Willmar could be handled in three days per week, Calvin said.

Calvin added the interim position could go through March, depending on how long it takes to find a permanent administrator.

With an interim in place, it will be possible for him to be part of the interviews next week for the human resources director and city clerk.

"He told us he could be here on Monday," Calvin said.

City Clerk/Treasurer Kevin Halliday said Wednesday there had been nine applicants for the human resources position, and city staff will interview six on Sept. 21. Halliday said a recommendation should be in front of the council for approval by Oct. 3. The council vote will require five affirmative votes to pass.

For the city clerk, Halliday said there were five applications and the city will be interviewing four on Sept. 22 and 23. Halliday said there is one internal candidate.

The council approved a motion on Wednesday that the interim city administrator would be doing the interviews for the city clerk, since the clerk reports to the administrator.

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Regarding the search for a permanent city administrator, David Drown Associates, which led the last administrator search, will be leading this search as well. Because Larry Kruse, who resigned as city administrator last week, lasted only nine months, the search firm will be doing the new search free of charge.

A draft timeline said the council could approve the profile, job description, salary range and hiring process in November. The position could be posted in December and applicant screenings, background checks and reference checks of finalists could happen in January. The finalists could be presented to the council in early February with interviews happening shortly after that. The draft timeline has a decision being made by the second week of February with a projected start date in early March.

"The staff deserves and the city deserves having someone in here on a permanent basis as fast as we can," Mueske said.

There were some concerns about rushing the process of finding an interim administrator, especially with some of the other issues on the council's plate.

"The key is getting the right person here. We need to get our act together, and we need to get unified with the staff and the community. That is my concern, that we take the time to right the ship and set the course and get the right person," said Councilwoman Audrey Nelsen.

Related Topics: WILLMAR CITY COUNCIL
Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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