Progress has been made in Cologne’s ongoing effort to find a new administrator, as members of the city council learned from the personnel committee during the council’s meeting on Monday, March 4.
Mayor Matt Lein and councilor Jill Skaaland, who make up the personnel committee, informed the rest of the council that they had narrowed the remaining candidates to six individuals. They intended to interview all six last week and bring three or four finalists to the rest of the council for a full interview before the end of the month.
If all goes, well, the council could make a final decision by April 1.
“That’s the goal anyway,” said Lein. “Hopefully we can get somebody in at the first meeting of next month.”
Both Lein and Skaaland said they were confident that the city’s next administrator is among this second batch of candidates that the city has sifted through. Originally, the city had hoped to have a new administrator on board around the turn of the year, but various complications, including a breakdown in negotiations with a prior finalist, caused the council to relaunch the search last month.
All along, the council has reiterated that making the right decision is more important than acting quickly, but that said, “We’d like to have someone to start tomorrow,” said Skaaland.
According to Lein and Skaaland, all six finalists are from Minnesota and have some experience in city or municipal settings. Most are fairly local, too. All but one reportedly live within 30 miles of Cologne.
In other business during the meeting, the council considered a proposal for a new technology provider and approved a one-year contract with Techstar IT Solutions at $922 per month.
The city had been receiving technology support from CIT (Computer Integration Technologies) out of Woodbury, but opted to change to the NYA-based Techstar IT Solutions in hopes of improving service. Techstar owner Paul Bunn attended the meeting and informed the council that Techstar has been serving the City of NYA for the past four to five years.
Council members discussed the fact that the city did not currently have a contract with CIT, but used its services and had difficulty getting timely responses to issues.
Lein said the costs of the two companies were roughly equal, but Techstar seemed to have a more responsive staff and offered new possibilities such as using a cloud server to share files across city locations and improve efficiency, and providing daily rather than weekly backup services.
“This would open up a whole new world for us, the City of Cologne, that we haven’t seen before,” said Lein.
In addition, since the city did not previously have a contract with a provider, Lein said Cologne had been paying premium rates rather than contract rates, thus driving up the overall costs when services were needed.
“We don’t have a technical person. We’ve never had a technical person, and we’ve paid for it,” he said.
The $922 monthly charge will cover both the city and the fire department, which had already been using Techstar for its technology needs prior to the city’s transfer from CIT. That monthly rate could drop if the fire department reevaluates its service needs in light of the new arrangement.
Both sides will have a 30-day opt out option, and Bunn said there would be no cancellation fee after those 30 days if the city elected to change providers, just an hourly charge to transfer the necessary data to a new provider.
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