With the recent termination of Larry Kruse as city administrator and city clerk, the Albertville City Council must move quickly and make swift decisions to hire replacement personnel to keep things running smoothly in city hall.
Former Albertville Mayor Don Peterson asked to speak during open forum and expressed his "embarrassment and disgust with the three that voted to terminate" Kruse. "I hired him as City Administrator during my term and you aren't going to find anyone like Larry," he said.
"I apologize if you are embarrassed but I am not," Jillian Hendrickson said.
"I did my due diligence and we need to move forward as a united council and take this very seriously now," she added.
Former city clerk Bridget Miller moved into another position within city hall a few months back and Kruse had been temporarily filling in. The submission deadline for resumes and applications was April 26. At the April 25th meeting, there were 34 applications. Realistically after the hiring process the goal is to have someone permenantly in the position by June.
In the interim, Albertville City Attorney Mike Couri suggested having finance director Tina Lannes fill in, and for her have the ability to sign as city clerk to keep business moving as usual. The council made a motion and approved this.
"Is there anyway we can have Bridget [Miller] return to the position?" Mayor Mark Meehan asked at Wednesday night's meeting. Currently, Miller works with Lannes in finance and Hendrickson answered, "No."
The council agreed to use an ad-hoc commitee to hire once city staff score the applications and narrow down the candidates.
"I would definitely recommend having the staff whittle down the list of candidates, and for them to work with an ad-hoc commitee comprised of staff [along with] one of the council members that voted no last week and one who voted yes," Jillian Hendrickson said.
"We already have a personnel committee chosen, and I am fine with just going with that," Dan Wagner said.
"I want the entire council involved," John Vetsch added.
Former city contractor and new city employee Adam Nafstad suggested the group not require the candidates to publicly interview in front of the entire council.
"I have concerns about having candidates at public meetings," he said.
Larry Sorenson stepped forward to serve on the adhoc committee, as well as Hendrickson.
Because Lannes will be adding on some of the city clerk duties to her own duties, she was also given permission to bring part time staff on with more hours as-needed. Wagner clarified that this was also not a budgeted item, and Lannes agreed to keep the council up to date with the amounts.
Interim City Administrator
Couri outlined different options in a six-page memo sent to council last week including possibly hiring someone either part time or on a contractor basis to fill in temporarily.
"The city council expressed dissatisfaction with Larry's performance in part because of complaints from business owners regarding the time it took to get responses from City Hall. Without someone to fill the City Administrator position on at least a part-time basis, response times are likely going to take even longer," Couri wrote in the memo.
While Couri outlined the advantages of filling the position temporarily, he also noted the drawbacks such as additional payroll which is not budgeted for in addition to the severance Kruse is entitled to.
Per Kruse's contract which was recently reviewed and renewed, he is entitled to six months of severance pay. His current annual salary is $105,000.
Couri and City Planner Al Brixius both stated that working with a search firm would be advantageous but council members Hendrickson and Vetsch both had other ideas.
"Why don't we post an ad and see what we get?" Vetsch said. "I think we're a little past that in this day and age," Hendrickson responded. "I know of two candidates that are interested and know that there is interest."
The council agreed to use the same adhoc committee to fill the interim city administrator position that is being used for the city clerk position. The plan and process of how that will work was not decided yet.
Permanent City Administrator
"It is generally thought that it will take the city about five months to hire a permanent city administrator. Given the divided vote of the city council in regard to the recent expectations from and performance of the City Administrator, it appears to me that the city council members may have differing expectations from the city administrator's position," Couri wrote in his memo.
He further suggested and recommended using a search firm or recruiter. While no specific cost has been given or calculated, two firms of which he contacted estimated costs between $17,500 to $18,500.
"I'm not as concerned about the strength of the city administrator up front," Meehan said. "I want them to have the strength to sell the undeveloped parts of Albertville," he continued, while looking at Kruse.
"I think we are looking for a lot of different qualities," Hendrickson said.
The council came together and unanimously voted on a motion to get three RFPs from search firms and recruiters and discuss further at the May 21 meeting.
Wagner again reminded the council that this cost is not a budgeted expense.
"I really want to keep track of the costs," he said to Lannes.