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Council accepts clerk/treasurer Max's resignation

The Crosslake City Council hired Dan Vogt, of DJV Consulting and former Brainerd city administrator, and accepted the resignation of Clerk/Treasurer Jenny Max on Thursday morning, March 14.

Max addressed her letter of resignation at the council’s regular monthly meeting Monday, March 11, but reconsidered when the council revisited a proposal she gave the council in January.

After deliberating, though, Max decided she will “continue on and pursue opportunities in California.” Her resignation is effective March 22.

Max thanked many people and referred to the city staff as a family. The council thanked Max for her service. She was hired as city clerk/treasurer in 2009.

As Max resigned, Vogt came on board as the council approved a contract labeled “part-time city administration services.”

The council hired Vogt at the March 11 meeting for consulting services on city staffing possibilities. The council directed him to review salary figures for a possible combination position of administrator/treasurer.

Previously, the council had three positions: an administrator, clerk/treasurer and deputy clerk. The council has yet to decide its direction since the administrator and clerk/treasurer have resigned.

Max had proposed in January to create two positions from the three: an administrator/treasurer and a clerk. The council asked Vogt to look at figures after voicing concerns over Max’s proposed annual pay for the administrator/treasurer position at $99,276.75. Former city administrator Tom Swenson, by comparison, was paid $82,215 per year.

Max said March 11 that she used a formula to come up with the salary number and pointed out that her proposal would save the city more than $53,000.

Vogt told the council March 14, after researching salary figures of administrators and similar positions in comparable towns, that the average pay among 96 communities statewide was $86,215.78. The average did not include information from any metro area cities, he said.

Vogt advised the council that as a former city administrator, he believed in the position. He said that regardless of the title, some staff member would ultimately have supervisory duties under the council.

“The discussion you have to have,” he told the council, “is how you want this place to operate. Whether you like it or not, someone is going to be the point person.”

Council member Mark Wessels said he wasn’t ready to go to an administrator position.

“There are cities around here that have a clerk/treasurer and it would be nice to talk to them and see what their challenges are,” Wessels said.

“If you don’t want an administrator, call the person a clerk/treasurer,” Vogt said to the council. “But I have a feeling someone in the office here is going to be in charge. The only power you have is when you’re sitting here as a council.”

Vogt also advised the council not to communicate outside meetings.

“I would discourage you from having conversation outside this room. You’ve only got five people and it’s difficult to stay in that open meeting,” he said. “Don’t talk between meetings. Don’t text, don’t email.”

Vogt said he has candidates who might be interested in doing interim clerk work for the city in Max’s absence. The council’s general consensus was that hiring an interim clerk would give the council time to choose a direction and finalize any job descriptions.

Vogt also planned to gather clerk/treasurer job descriptions for the council for comparison.

The council chose to recess the meeting until 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, when it planned to meet with interim clerk candidates.