New Watertown City Council settles in

Steve Washburn
Steve Washburn
Adam Pawelk
Adam Pawelk

The city of Watertown swore in its new city council on Tuesday, Jan. 8, with a new mayor and two city council members taking the oath of office.

Charlotte Johnson was sworn in as the city’s mayor, replacing Rick Mann, who had been serving as acting mayor since the death of K.J. McDonald in October. Mann had served on the council for the last 8 years, and was presented with a certificate recognizing his service to the city during the meeting.

Johnson is the president of the Watertown Area Historical Society, is active in the Fine Arts Council, and has written an extensive book on Watertown’s history. She graduated from Watertown-Mayer High School and the College of St. Benedict, taught at the technical college in Moorhead for 35 years, and then returned to Watertown in 2004.

Also sworn into office last Tuesday were new councilors Steve Washburn and Adam Pawelk. Washburn previously served as a member of the Watertown Planning Commission, and Pawelk was a member of the Park Board.

Washburn, who grew up in Hector and graduated from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, moved to Watertown in 1999. Washburn and his wife have three children.

Pawelk, who grew up in Hollywood Township and graduated from Watertown-Mayer High School in 2000, graduated with a degree in civil engineering from Minnesota State University-Mankato. He purchased a home in Watertown in 2006.

Besides Mann, the other outgoing council member was Nicholas Hoese. Hoese also received a certificate at the meeting in recognition of his service to the city.

The new council, as it does at the first meeting of every year, took care of several official pieces of business, including choosing an acting mayor in case the current mayor is for any reason unable to perform her duties. Returning councilors Mike Walters and Steve Crowder both expressed interest, with Crowder being chosen after a 3-2 silent vote of the council.

The council also chose committee assignments for the new year. Johnson will represent the council on the Commission on Aging and the Carver County Leaders. Walters will represent the council for Community Education, the Fire Advisory Board and Parks and Recreation Board. Crowder and Washburn will have the voting positions on the Economic Development Authority, and Pawelk will represent the council on the planning commission.

The city council also assigned several official designations for the year, a routine annual order of business. Bremer Bank, Citizen’s Alliance Bank, Northland Securities and RBC Wealth Management were named the official depositories of the city, the Carver County News was chosen as the official newspaper, the law firm of Hoff, Barry, and Kozar was chosen as the city attorney, the firm of Bolton and Menk was chosen as the city engineer, Northland Securities Inc. was chosen as the financial consultant, the firm Briggs and Morgan was appointed bond counsel, Scott Dornfield was appointed building official, and Lakeview Clinic and Catalyst Medical Clinic were appointed health officers for the city.


COLA gets approval

In one of its first pieces of business this year, the Watertown City Council approved cost of living adjustments for its eight city staff members.

The council approved raises of 1.7 percent for employees, using this year’s percentage increase of social security benefits as a reference. The city had actually budgeted for 3 percent raises this year.

The budgeted amount for raises included a $7,330 general fund impact and a $5,153 enterprise fund impact. However, with the 1.7 percent raises, it will have only a $4,154 general fund impact and a $2,920 enterprise fund impact.

The council approved, based on staff recommendation, that the additional money that was budgeted for cost of living adjustments be used to provide additional training opportunities for staff members. City Administrator Luke Fischer will ensure that the training expenditures do not exceed the savings total.

The council noted, in approving the recommendation, that it was probably especially important for staff members to have access to additional training at this time. The size of the city staff has been reduced significantly over the course of the year, with many employees taking on or sharing in new responsibilities.

Contact Matt Bunke at [email protected]