Council opts for clerk-administrator

By: 
Jordan Gerard

After a lengthy discussion about job descriptions, responsibilities and avoiding past issues, the Spring Grove City Council approved a job search for a new clerk-administrator position at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

Mayor Sarah Schroeder said, after a conversation with councilor Karen Folstad, Clerk/Treasurer Erin Konkel and Deputy Clerk Lyn Solberg, the best option was to hire a clerk-administrator. 

In the past year, the city hired an administrator but the position itself did not work out because of the way the job description was written, Schroeder added. 

“A lot of things didn’t go well because of the way we wrote the job description to the administrator,” she said. “We didn’t want to change city hall duties. It worked before when we had a clerk-administrator job.”

The clerk-administrator would be responsible for organizing, coordinating and directing city government operations and related work as required, the general definition explains. 

It would also include setting policies and goals under the direction of the city council and having organizational supervision over organizational personnel, it adds.

If the city hires a clerk-administrator, several things would happen: reducing the Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA) contract and changing Konkel’s position to Account Clerk. 

Councilor Chad Rohland said the council wants the clerk-administrator to work closely with Solberg and Konkel and to “have a good atmosphere in the office and make our city and office stronger.”

The council approved the job posting and would review candidates in January. 

Town improvements

The council approved a motion to start the process for collecting bids on the water tower project. The new water tower will be a 200,000 gallon spherical tower on a new lot on 1st St. NW. The standard “Spring Grove” will be displayed on the tower, however, paint colors and rosemaling will be decided at a later date.

City Engineer Tim Hruska asked the council to move forward on street projects for 2020, including 1st St. SW and 2nd Ave. NW and 3rd Ave. NW. 

The most expensive of the projects, 1st St. SW, is also the most necessary. That project is estimated at $730,000, while the other project is at $600,000, Hruska said. The northwest streets could hold off longer, Hruska relayed from Public Works Director Paul Morken. 

The council could potentially bond the street projects with the water tower bonding, but until those costs came through, the council approved the survey work to be done on 1st St. SW before more snow falls. 

Other news

The council looked at different types of “Your Speed” signs and received approval from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to place the sign in two locations on Highway 44 (west of town and east of town). 

The council had unanswered questions concerning network connections and therefore did not take formal action on the purchase. They did ask Police Chief Paul Folz if he could retrieve the portable county speed trailer and put it on the west end of town. 

Though that sign does not track data, it has not been placed on the highway for a while and thus, the council hopes it will decrease drivers’ speeds coming into town, especially by the school.

The council heard from Carolyn Friesse and Naomi Bjerke about the Semcac Senior Dining program and asked if the city could help rebrand the program in order to attract more people to the daily lunches.

The program is age-based, not income-based as many people assume, Friesse said. People ages 60 and over are welcome to attend the program. Currently, only about four people regularly attend during the week, except for Thursdays when chair volleyball is played.

“If we cannot salvage this program, it will be gone,” she said. Semcac also serves about 12 to 18 meals for Meals on Wheels in Spring Grove. 

The council agreed to help Semcac however they could.

Next the council hired its third full-time police officer, Alexander Olson, who is originally from Alexandria, Minnesota.

Concerning the change in the weather, the council approved a contract for snow and ice removal from MnDOT. The approval is contingent upon City Attorney Greg Schieber and Morken’s approval.

The contract caps the cost of what MnDOT pays the city for removing snow and ice off Highway 44 in town. That is capped at $26,333.31 until 2024.

Need a kitchen space? Rent the kitchen at the Fest Building. The council approved a motion that will allow groups or people to rent only the kitchen for $50 per day, with a $50 deposit and cleaning up after themselves. 

This new rental is contingent upon the entire building being rented. If another event needs the entire building, the event renting out the kitchen will be moved to a different date. 

It may be ready to snow, but the Swim Center is ready for a manager, as the council approved a job advertisement. 

The city also approved a letter of support for a boost grant application from MnDOT that will help with Safe Routes to School.

Finally, the council looked at a proposed wage change for fire department officers. The proposed rates are $1,500 for fire chief (formerly $900), $600 for assistant fire chief (formerly $500), $500 for second assistant chief/training officers (formerly $400), $200 for assistant training officer (formerly $100) and $300 for secretary, which was the only decreased pay from $400.

Konkel will review what other cities pay its fire departments and then the council will make a decision.

Closed session

The council went into closed session to discuss union negotiations.

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Spring Grove City Council will be Dec. 17, at 6 p.m. at 168 W. Main St. The Truth in Taxation meeting will be held at 6 p.m. that night.