July 18, 2015

Kasson City Council eliminates street supervisor position

Under the administration of Randy Lenth Tom Ricke was hired from the engineering firm of Widseth Smith Nolting as a street supervisor for the city of Kasson. At the time WSN served as the city's engineering firm.

Ricke was hired with the intent that he would take over as superintendent of utilities for Burt Fjerstad who will be retiring at the end of the year.

Wednesday night at the regular council meeting Tom Ricke was one of four city employees on the consent agenda to receive a step grade increase. He was slated for an increase to grade 13, step 3 at $30.62 an hour, effective June 11, 2015. An agenda item was added by council member Doug Buck to discuss that position.

Buck said there are five supervisors making $475, 000 with salary and benefits. Five department heads are making over $30 an hour. "I am sitting here trying to save money and we have these wages. It reminds me of big government," said Buck. He added that there is no street budget because everything is going out in payroll.

Buck proposed to eliminate the street supervisor position, stating that this was nothing against the person in that position. City finance director Nancy Zaworski suggested the proposal be brought before the union and that they have discussion at a work session. "There are union issues," said Zaworski.

Council member Coy Borgstrom said the city needs one "strong" superintendent. "We used to have a leader down there, a guy who made the guys get things done," said Borgstrom.

Mayor Steve Johnson asked the council if they wanted to have more discussion and wait two weeks. Council members Coy Borgstrom and Buck suggested there was no need to wait two weeks.

The city finance director suggested motions should not be made on issues added to the agenda that night. Doug Buck said he did not see that as an issue and made the motion to eliminate the position. Coy Borgstrom seconded the motion and on a three-two vote the street supervisor position was eliminated. Buck, Borgstrom and Mayor Johnson voted for eliminating the position and council members Dan Eggler and Chuck Coleman voted no.

The action to eliminate the position took on similarities to the first meeting of the year with the new council. In this case though instead of eliminating a position the council fired city administrator Randy Lenth after he had served in that capacity for the past nine years. The mayor and council members Buck and Borgstrom voted to fire the administrator and Eggler and Coleman voted no.

In another matter funding of the School Resource Officer (SRO) was brought up at the last council meeting by city resident Jerry Berg. The cost of the SRO in the K-M School District is split between the city of Kasson and school district. At Triton and Hayfield, where they share an SRO, each district contributes 20% and the county pays 60%.

Berg called this an "inequitable taxing situation for the city of Kasson". He said Kasson residents are double paying-for the SRO in the city and Triton and Hayfield as well through county taxes.

At the Wednesday meeting the council had discussion on Berg's comments. "Jerry made some good points," said the mayor. "We are paying more than we should pay for our share," said Borgstrom. What Doug Buck said he did not like is the fact K-M and the city are not getting any help from the county.

Police Chief Ken Schuck said when then police chief Dave Johnson retired the SRO was hired and he picked up that slack. Full time Kasson police staff went from eight to seven-and-a-half and remains at that number today, including the SRO. When school is not in session for the summer the SRO...READ THE FULL ARTICLE BY PURCHASING THE DCI TODAY!

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