City strips duties and salary from elected Street Commissioner position
As a result of approving a series of ordinance amendments at last Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, many of the duties and responsibilities once held by the elected Street Commissioner position have now been transferred to the appointed Street Superintendent position, currently held by Dustin Bonack.
Other duties such as collection and disposal of solid waste, oversight of grade alterations to city property and special assessments; were transferred to that of the Public Works Director and City Engineer, currently held by Rod Akey. The 13 ordinance amendments came on the heels of a 6-2 vote; First District Disrtrict Alderman Pete Lokemoen and 7th District Alderman Rob Norton standing opposed.
As part of a separate ordinance amendment approved by 5-3 vote (4th District Alderwoman Kandy Peterson, Lokemoen and Norton standing opposed) the city’s elected City Clerk salary was adjusted to $58,841.83 from $54,339.47 while the elected Street Commissioner salary was reduced from $70,127.40 and entitlement to all fringe benefits, to $2,500 annually with zero eligibility for benefits.
The pay increase to the city clerk position will be the result of a 1% pay increase given to all union employees on Dec. 25.
During discussion last Tuesday prior to the ordinance amendments, Lokemoen questioned moving forward with agenda items pertaining to changes to the Street Commissioner position, due to how the position had been addressed, following the November 2016 referendum.
The results of that referendum, 2,238-1,468 in favor of maintaining the position of an elected Street Commissioner, have since gone unaddressed by city administration or the council.
“I do support the concept of an appointed street commissioner and I did vote in favor of that ordinance,” Lokemoen stated. “However I am concerned about how this issue has been handled subsequent to the referendum on this question. It would seem to me that the referendum on November 8, 2016, was in fact a referendum on the proposed charter ordinance. That ordinance eliminated the elected street commissioner position and transformed the duties of that position to a new position, that of a street superintendent.
“Therefore, it would appear to me the elected Street Commissioner position, and the said duties of that position, remain in place. The duties of the elected Street Commissioner should remain associated with that position,” he added.
“Therefore I motion for all proposed ordinances relevant to the Street Commissioner position, be laid over until such time there is resolution to the questions regarding this issue.”
Also during discussion, City Attorney Tom Hayden vehemently insisted the results of the referendum have been upheld by the city.
“The referendum asked if we should eliminate the street commissioner position and the answer was no. It has not been, we are adding another employee to be able to issue citations for certain violations.”
According to City Administrator Dave Johnson, the primary duties of the elected Street Commissioner position will be two-fold; addressing issues of snow removal in the winter and under-attended lawns, weeds in the summer.
“We have two primary concerns when it comes to the duties of the Street Commissioner and that is snow removal, length of grass and noxious weeds,” he stated.
The Commissioner will have the authority to issue citations for snow removal and/or under-attended lawns, in the event discussion of violations is unsuccessful.
The position will also sit as a non-voting member of the Board of Public Works and will be open for candidacy in the April 2018 election. In the event the position is not filled during the election, the responsibilities of the position will be delegated to the street department.
In other matters Tuesday, the council voted unanimously to approve the annexation of right of way for a small portion of CTH G, to assist in the facilitation of a future east-side industrial park.