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Mayor to explore city management consultant

Though the idea is in very preliminary stages, Darrell Schneider, Crosslake’s mayor, will look into hiring a management consultation company to advise on reorganizing the city’s management system.

Since Tom Swenson, former city administrator, resigned in December, the council has been discussing how to move forward with administration.

The Crosslake City Council met in a special meeting Monday night, Feb. 25, to further discuss the matter. A little less than an hour of council discussion and public comment was heard on the issue.

Council member John Moengen presented a flow chart on administrative duties that showed council liaisons as well as the personnel committee taking over administrative duties.

His plan shows each department head reporting to his or her council liaisons, which were appointed at the beginning of the year. Those liaisons would act in an advisory role.

City attorney Brad Person said if the city moves forward without an administrator, some areas of city code that address the city administrator would need to be changed. He also mentioned that if liaisons take a stronger role, roles should be clearly defined.

“I still have some hesitation about individual council members being a liaison and kind of having that somewhat supervisor role. It all depends on how we define it and how we internally talk about what council members can do and can’t do,” Person said.

Council member Mark Wessels said the new system could work with community support.

“We had a lot of support back in November to make some changes, and one of those changes was, do we really need to have a city administrator who acts more as a crutch to department heads? The crutch is now gone and they need to stand on their own and I think they’re very capable of doing that,” Wessels said.

Patty Norgaard, chair of the Economic Development Authority and Crosslake resident, addressed the council.

“The community overwhelmingly supported the new council. My concern is that what we thought we were voting for wasn’t exactly what we have gotten,” Norgaard said. “There was never any mention of disrupting or putting the city in chaos as it has been for the two past months. ... This isn’t what I elected my council to do. We haven’t heard a plan.”

Later in the meeting, council member Steve Roe suggested revisiting the option of hiring a city administrator.

“Is it impossible to consider that we back up a few steps and reconsider hiring of a city administrator? That is my very, very strong suggestion,” Roe said.

Wessels said the League of Minnesota Cities did not advise a city of Crosslake’s size to have an administrator, and that hundreds of cities in Minnesota operate without an administrator.

The council came to a general consensus for Schneider to look into management consultation, and he plans to have information prepared for the council’s March 11 meeting. Schneider will simply explore the option; no one has been hired.