A smaller than usual Cologne City Council convened for the first time in 2013 on Monday, Jan. 7, and discussed a number of open positions that will need to be filled early this year.
Matt Lein took the gavel for the first time as mayor, stepping in for Bernie Shambour Jr., who did not run for reelection last fall. Jeffrey McInnis was also sworn in as the council’s newest member.
While reviewing a list of appointments for the new year, council members discussed the process of appointing a council member to fill the open council seat after Jill Skaaland also departed at the turn of the year.
Councilor Scott Williams suggested that the council appoint Skaaland to fill the open seat since she earned the next highest number of votes in last fall’s election. (Though she did not file for reelection, she later announced a write-in campaign).
Lein said he had recently spoken to Skaaland about remaining active with the personnel committee, which has been busy since the departure of several city employees late last year, but said he had not received any indication from Skaaland in those discussions that she had an interest in continuing with the council itself.
After Williams made a motion to offer the seat to Skaaland and let her decide whether or not she would like to take it, the council agreed with a 4-0 vote to that effect. If Skaaland decides not to accept the seat, the council will send out a citywide email soliciting candidates.
In addition to the open council seat, the council is also looking to fill a seat on the planning commission which was vacated by Marcia Tellers. A citywide email will also be sent out regarding that opening.
Meanwhile, the council had been hoping to welcome aboard a new city administrator during the first week of Janury, but that timeline has been pushed back. Lein said that the city received 33 applications for the position. The personnel committee quickly trimmed that number to nine candidates, then to three, and two finalists have been interviewed.
While the committee has a recommendation to offer the job to the individual Lein said is the most qualified, he said that the city remains in limbo because the candidate is on vacation until mid-January and has not yet been reached with the offer.
“We’re in limbo, waiting,” said Lein, adding that a council vote to approve the candidate could possibly take place during the next meeting on Jan. 22 if the candidate is contacted and agrees to accept the position. In that case, the new administrator would likely begin work in early February.
While that is a longer period of time than the city had wished to take before securing a new top staff person, and the current city staff is backed up to some extent, Lein said that bringing on the right candidate is more important than getting someone through the door quickly.
In other business, the council approved joint powers agreement with the State of Minnesota, Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to make use of resources available through that agency on behalf of its city attorney and police department.
* The council’s next meeting, which falls on Monday, Jan. 21, was rescheduled to Tuesday, Jan. 22 due to Martin Luther King Day.
Contact Paul Downer at [email protected]