Rich Spiczka will take over as Pequot Lakes city administrator Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The city council approved the employment terms at its meeting Tuesday, Nov. 10, on a 2-1 vote with council member Mimi Swanson casting the only “no” vote, saying later her vote was because Spiczka has no experience in city government. Council member Cheri Seils was absent Nov. 10.

That agreement includes paying Spiczka $73,028 per year. If he receives satisfactory performance reviews after three and six months, the council would consider an additional $2,000 in salary after each successful review.

He will continue coaching the Pequot Lakes High School boys basketball team. Regarding his coaching duties, the council asks that Spiczka put the city first, but said it can’t control what he does in his time away from work.

Spiczka, the Pequot Lakes Community Education director with the school district for the past four years, said Monday, Nov. 16, that coaching will benefit his job with the city.

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“Being involved in a different arena like that will lead to more involved conversations with people,” he said, noting he doesn’t consider his job as community education director or as city administrator ones where he punches out at 4 p.m. and is done until the next morning.

His other jobs have been that way as well, and it’s how he’s wired to work, Spiczka said.

It is a bittersweet moment, he said, because he enjoys his job with the school district.

“I very much enjoy the work I do here. I very much enjoy the people here. I have a passion for serving the public and working for the public,” he said, noting he sees his next job as an opportunity to continue that work in another way.

Spiczka said it was a perfect storm of circumstances as he and his family weren’t looking to move anywhere.

“It just happened to be a job I could do in the community we live in,” he said. “It happened to be a new challenge in the same type of arena in serving the public, but it didn't mean we had to move anywhere.”

Going into his new job, Spiczka said a goal is to identify what the city’s biggest needs are, which includes finding a way to grow both the commercial and residential tax base. He also wants to consider how the city can use its “unbelievable geography” to its advantage, meaning having the city capitalize on its natural resources. It will be important to grow while preserving what the city has, he said.

The city must have a vision for three, five and 10 years from now, not just today. It must move beyond the Highway 371 bypass issue and now use the highway to its advantage, he said.

Spiczka has a sister who is a city administrator, and his mom was an elected city clerk in a small town.

“We have some history of serving the public. It’s just in our DNA,” he said.

Spiczka will succeed Nancy Malecha, the city’s first-ever administrator, who resigned in July to work for the Crow Wing County Highway Department. Malecha served as city administrator for nearly five years, and worked for the city for a total of 18 years.

The council interviewed four finalists for the position and unanimously agreed to offer the position to Spiczka on Oct. 29.

Pequot Lakes Superintendent Chris Lindholm said the school district will hire another community education director, but will likely hold off until late winter to save on expenditures during a time when community education programs have been mostly put on hold.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.