Arden Hills hires firm to cover for vacant positions

Arden Hills has been searching for a city administrator for months now. But by the end of August, the small city — with the large Rice Creek Commons development project on its hands — found itself down a few other positions at City Hall as well.

John Anderson, acting public works director, who also performed the duties of city engineer and assistant city engineer, handed in his resignation to interim city administrator Sue Iverson — also the city’s director of finance and administrative services — on Aug. 16.

On top of that, Ryan Streff, Arden Hills’ city planner, who resigned July 29, has not yet been replaced.

Arden Hills’ two-person personnel committee met with the city’s consultant Bill Joynes from Midwest Government Advisors to take a look at the situation Aug. 23.

Joynes, who’s currently working on the recruitment of a new city administrator, was asked by the committee if he could also find a city engineer to contract with, and some city planning help as well.

Joynes did just that. He negotiated “a very good proposal for not only engineering and planning services, but also interim public works director services as well,” according to the city.

WSB and Associates will cover for all three services. The company has offices around the state and provides engineering, planning, environmental and construction services to clients.

With the city staff recommendation, and after much discussion regarding the timeline of said services, the Arden Hills City Council unanimously approved the proposal at its Aug. 29 meeting.

WSB will fill the shoes of engineering services, interim director of public works services and planning assistance for three months. The contract can then be extended if the city has not hired permanent staff by then.

The fact that the city hasn’t filled the position of city administrator yet, which opened up in the fall of 2015, isn’t because city leaders haven’t been trying.

Mayor David Grant said last February that the council just wants to find the right person for the job.

Arden Hills began working with Midwest Government Advisors last October, after the retirement of city administrator Pat Klaers, who had worked for the city for several years and got the ball rolling on the redevelopment of the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site, the project now called Rice Creek Commons.

Grant said there are a lot of people who have applied for the position, but he noted that it’s important to find the right skill set. That’s what the firm is there for, he said, to weed out the realistic applicants from the unrealistic ones.

The mayor and council member Brenda Holden form the city’s personnel committee. They were appointed by the city council to lead in the hiring process for the position. Grant and Holden said the actual pool of realistic candidates for the city administrator job has not been a large one and the search is still on. 

 

Jesse Poole can be reached at jpoole@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815.

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