Council votes unanimously to open administrator position
The Hastings City Council agreed with the administrative committee's recommendation to seek applicants for the soon-to-be-vacant city administrator position.
The committee met last week and voted 2-1 to post a notice of the vacancy, rather than appointing assistant city administrator Melanie Mesko Lee. The recommendation was approved unanimously by the full council Monday evening.
The council's approval came with strong encouragement to Mesko Lee to submit a letter of interest and resume for the position. Councilmember Tony Alongi said he believes Mesko Lee to be one of the best, and that he doesn't envy the field of candidates that would compete against her for the position. However, he said that he believes it's best to let the process play out.
Councilmember Tony Nelson asked about the discussion at the committee level that led to a split vote. City Administrator Dave Osberg explained that councilmember and committee member Ed Riveness was the only person on the council who was around the last time an administrator was hired. The circumstances then were different, Osberg said, as there was some significant unrest in the council at that time. That not being the case now, Riveness had suggested the city could consider appointing Mesko Lee, Osberg said.
The timeline for filling Osberg's position is a relatively short one. The closing date for applicants is March 21, one day before Osberg's final day to allow him to forward whatever materials he's received. The administrative committee would select three to five candidates for interviews the week of April 1. Interviews conducted by the full council would be done the week of April 15 and the council would select one or two candidates for a personality profile, leadership assessment, background check and reference check the same week. The full council would meet the week of April 22 to select a finalist and begin negotiating an employment agreement. Approval of the new agreement would be set for the May 6 council meeting.
The council also appointed Mesko Lee as the interim administrator through the hiring process, effective March 23. Along with the interim appointment, she will receive a $400 per month car allowance and a compensation adjustment while serving as interim administrator. Accumulation of additional compensatory time would be suspended. If Mesko Lee is not hired as city administrator, Mesko Lee would return to her current status, accruals and compensation.
All meetings of the administrative committee and city council are open to the public.
At the end of the meeting, Hastings resident and police officer Tim Connell encouraged the council to include members of the city and department heads in the hiring decision, and suggested that having an objective third party guide the process.