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Paynesville Press - February 15, 2006

City begins process of hiring new administrator

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville City Council took the first steps towards hiring a new city administrator last week at their regular monthly meeting. Current city administrator Steve Helget, who has served in that capacity since January 2002, has resigned, effective March 1, in order to take the city administrator job in Montgomery.

Last week, the city council appointed public works director Ron Mergen to serve as the interim city administrator; assigned Mayor Jeff Thompson to serve on the personnel committee during the search; and approved a tentative schedule for the process, as well as an advertisement and job description.

Mergen previously served as co-interim city administrator prior to Helget being hired and before that when previous city administrator Dennis Wilde was on medical leave.v Thompson, who will serve as the point man in returning phone calls and organizing resumes, was appointed to the personnel committee last week, after a lengthy discussion of the impacts and fulfilling the requirements of the open meeting law and data privacy.

With Thompson and councilors Jeff Bertram and Jean Soine now on the personnel committee, this committee actually contains a quorum (majority) of the city council. Therefore, all these committee meetings will be posted as meetings.

The committee, though, will need to abide by data privacy of the candidates. Their names do not become public until the council decides which finalists to interview. The committee, then, will need to refer to these candidates by, say, a number instead of by name during open meetings where privacy of the date needs to be maintained.

The council also approved advertising for a new city administrator with the League of Minnesota Cities, to which most cities belong, leading the council to believe it is the prime place to advertise.

The advertisement calls for a city administrator/economic development director, with either three years experience in municipal government experience (with a college degree) or five years of experience (without a college degree).

The council was presented with the following schedule last week for hiring a new city administrator:

*Application deadline, Friday, March 17;

*Application review and site visits by personnel committee, mid-March to Tuesday, April 11;

*Personnel committee recommends candidates to interview to the city council, Wednesday, April 12;

*Interviews conducted, week of April 17;

*Council selects candidate, offers position, and negotiates hiring package, April 19-25;

*Council approves hiring candidate, Wednesday, April 26, or Wednesday, May 10;

*New city administrator starts, May or June 2006.

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