August 18, 2016 at 3:24 p.m.
City Parks and GPS Coordinator Nate Sondrol cautioned there’s going to be a few extra costs like power augers for setting poles, but the city council was unanimous in its support. The old equipment gets sold on a public surplus website and will be removed by any successful bidder.
The North Branch Council also agreed to contract with Springsted and Associates to perform a city administrator search.
The first proposed motion by Council member Theresa Furman was to wait until additional search pitches could be compared from other head-hunter firms; but council felt the need for a city administrator is urgent.
Furman’s motion to table this contract failed 3-1. (Mayor Hagen Kennedy absent.)
The Springsted search is also desirable because the company has consulted with North Branch for years on bond sales, etc, and knows the city’s peculiarities, council added. The fee is $24,500 and there’s a two-year guarantee should the chosen candidate not stick around-- Springsted will present a new candidate at no-charge.
The “interim administrator” situation was also clarified.
North Branch’s longtime Financial Director Richard Hill accepted $2,400 additional monthly to serve as administrator. Hill also told council he needs a few months’ commitment and didn’t want anything “week-to-week” or open ended. The agreement also allows for six months of transitional employment for Hill upon a hire of a new city administrator.
The council heard there could be an administrator recommendation by late October.
There will be a study done for developing facts about the Water & Light ballot question. The wording of the ballot was adopted by council. The wording is shall the commission be abolished, yes or no. Council member Blomquist voted no on the ballot wording as she also voted no on offering the referendum. The study will only analyze pros and cons of consolidating the utility into city operations and not look into the basis for rates. The cost is $29,500.
Another study proposed by Springsted and Assoc. to analyze the rate structure for water and electric was estimated to cost $12,000, and was declined.
Council was advised the work window for completing the study is 10 weeks, which means the probability of having an information piece to share with voters-- will be days prior to the vote.
Attorney Jay Squires told council that elected officials and staff are warned to not “advocate” for either a yes or no vote. The city is only allowed under state statute to “inform” on a ballot question.