Cologne settles on administrator candidate

It has taken a little longer than Cologne councilors may have liked, but the city has chosen its man to fill the vacant city administrator position and is in final negotiations to bring him aboard.

The council discussed a number of related items during its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22 and could hold a special meeting before its next regular meeting on Feb. 4 to officially hire John Meyer for the position.

If negotiations conclude successfully, Meyer would bring a strong background of work and education experience to Cologne. He presently works as a development and financial advisor, but previously had been the finance director and assistant city administrator for Centerville, Minn. from 2004 to 2009.

In the year prior to that position he had been an assistant professor of community development at St. Cloud State University, and the bulk of his career came as the city administrator, finance officer and development director for the City of Canby, Minn. (population 1,795) near the South Dakota border from 1977 to 2003.

Meyer also has a distinguished academic record, capped by a doctorate degree in community studies, demography and rural sociology from South Dakota State University, Brookings.

Cologne Mayor Matt Lein said that Meyer was the most qualified candidate out of 33 individuals who applied for the position. While the council had hoped to hire a new administrator in early January, Lein said the most important thing was to bring in the right person rather than simply fill the position as quickly as possible.

During their meeting last week, Cologne City Council members discussed a number of proposals from Meyer regarding the position. While the city had offered him a salary of $68,000, Meyer requested a salary of $70,000. Council members said they had no issues with increasing the salary that amount.

They also discussed making provisions to give Meyer more than the proposed 15 days of vacation time per year, given the point he is at in his career and his extensive experience, and mentioned that the city’s attorney was looking into a request Meyer made regarding benefits from the Public Employee Relief Association (PERA).

Once those details are ironed out, the council intends to take action to hire Meyer as soon as possible.

In other business, the council:
• Returned to full strength with the return of councilor Jill Skaaland, who did not file for reelection last fall but announced a write-in campaign shortly before the election.

Skaaland did not win election, but was appointed to the council at its first January meeting and was sworn into office at its second meeting.

• Approved a list of appointments, including officers for the Cologne Fire Department. Chuck Joos will return as fire chief, Dan Worm is Chief 2 and Nick Joos is Chief 3. The department’s three captains are Brad Schmitt, Ryan Kirby and Tom Kasel.

• Discussed changes to correct some minor inconsistencies in the city’s personnel policy.

• Approved three gambling permits for the Cologne Lions Club to hold a raffle on April 27, to conduct a raffle and bingo on July 27 and for raffles on Oct. 26.

• Approved a temporary liquor license for St. Bernard’s Church on Feb. 17.

Contact Paul Downer at [email protected]