The municipal council chooses a new clerk-treasurer


Marshal Helmberger

TOUR— The city council, here on Monday, unanimously accepted the recommendation of its hiring committee and agreed to offer Tower resident Michael Schultz the position of clerk-treasurer.
The committee has yet to decide on a salary and benefits for Schultz, which the parties concerned will negotiate before the next board meeting, set for September 27, when a final hiring decision could be made.
The decision to offer the job to Schultz came as no surprise. Schultz had finished just behind current Clerk-Treasurer Victoria Ranua in 2019 and he was one of only two candidates interviewed for the post this time around. The hiring committee had attempted to interview a third candidate, but this person withdrew shortly before the interview.
Ranua announced his resignation on June 1. The city’s job posting, published shortly after Ranua’s announcement, had received relatively little interest, with just five applicants responding in a two-and-a-half-month period. The committee had determined that two of the candidates did not meet the minimum requirements.
Schultz currently works as a Revenue Collector for the Ely-based Minnesota Department of Revenue, a position he has held since 2018. He previously worked for two other private collection firms, based in the Twin Cities, where he worked. was director and coach of collections teams. Schultz grew up in Virginia and holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from St. John’s University in Collegeville.
Schultz also has recent experience in the governance of the City of Tower, currently as Treasurer of the Tower Economic Development Authority and as Chairman of the City Planning and Zoning Commission. If the council approves the hiring later this month, Schultz will likely begin his job with the city in October. Ranua agreed to stay to help Schultz settle into the post.
Police contract
In another action, the council voted 4-1, with Councilor Sheldon Majerle voting no, to pursue a contract with the Township of Breitung for police services. Councilor Joe Morin presented the cost information provided by the township, which puts the city’s share of hiring and equipping a full-time police chief at $ 65,346 in 2022, which which would include the cost of a vehicle. Morin and Councilor Dave Setterberg recommended providing an additional budget of $ 10,000 for part-time salaries or overtime for special events.
The new arrangement would allow the city to achieve substantial savings compared to the previous contract with the township, which had consumed 32% of the city’s tax levy, according to Setterberg. The new contract, including the additional $ 10,000, would cover about 19% of the city’s tax levy, according to figures the two council members presented to council this week.
The new contract with Breitung would provide about 40 hours per week of local coverage, which Morin said would focus on “community policing.” Both communities would rely on the St. Louis County Sheriff for answering 911 the other 128 hours per week.
Currently, the city relies full time on the sheriff’s office for emergency response, with the cost of this response being covered by the county tax levy.
The council did not discuss which agency would lead the criminal investigation if the Breitung Police Department was reconstituted. The township is currently examining the possible hiring of Daniel Reing as the new police chief. This decision could be made as early as September 23.
Regarding other personnel matters, Ranua informed the council that the city’s ambulance manager, who is also a paramedic, works an average of 40 hours per week, which generally qualified city employees. for various benefits, including health and dental insurance and life insurance.
Ranua said that as a small employer, the city is not required to pay health coverage for any of its workers, but once the city decides to do so, it should have a “solid base” to do it. An agenda item Ranua included in the council brief indicated a wide disparity in the benefits offered to various employees, ranging from $ 14,605 ​​for members of the AFSCME union, which includes the assistant clerk and staff. of public works, $ 27,900 for the wastewater supervisor, who is hired and paid under a joint authority agreement with Breitung. All the employee benefits of the clerk-treasurer total $ 18,497.
In other matters, counsel:
• Authorized Mayor Orlyn Kringstad and Councilor Kevin Norby to discuss with Breitung officials a request from the township for a “fair and reasonable goodwill offer” for the township’s past and ongoing maintenance of an extension of the Breitung cycle path, part of which crosses undeveloped areas. land belonging to the town of Tour. About seven years ago, the city and township agreed to work cooperatively on the trail project, which was supposed to complete a circuit of cycle paths spanning ‘around the horn’, including Hoodoo Point campgrounds. and McKinley Park. The project was only partially built, never reaching Hoodoo Point, and the township has mowed the trail, including the portion that runs through the City of Tower property, since. Some council members objected to Breitung’s request and Ranua noted that the town has mowed down part of the Mesabi Trail that has crossed the township for decades, without asking for compensation. But Kringstad said the township was signaling a desire to discuss the issue, which it said it supported.
• Discussed the advisability of conducting a bathymetric survey of the East Two River channel to document the degree of additional sedimentation in the channel due to increased vessel traffic and the removal of part of the retaining wall along the channel. on the east side of the river.
Ranua noted that a similar study was carried out several years ago when the port was dredged and that carrying out another now would establish a baseline for determining how changes along the river are affecting the sedimentation. She said this information would help the city plan its ongoing maintenance needs for the river channel, which connects the harbor to Vermilion Lake. Board members agreed on the value of the study, but hesitated at the cost, estimated to be between $ 5,000 and $ 7,000. In the end, the board agreed to consider it in its budget for 2022.
• Discussed briefly but took no official action on the recommendations of the Emergency Medical Services Board, provided to the city last month. Norby said he would be open to meeting with the director of the ambulance, the clerk-treasurer and others to develop recommendations to present to the board. “There are things we need to take action on,” Norby said. “We need a smaller group to look at the report in more depth. “
• Voted 3-2 to sell the police vehicle the town bought several years ago as part of its police deal with Breitung Township. Councilor Sheldon Majerle offered to take the vehicle to Waschke Family car dealership in Cook to get an appraisal of the vehicle, a Chevy Tahoe. Kringstad and Norby supported Majerle’s motion to sell the vehicle. Ranua noted that used car prices are unusually high at the moment, which could result in a good price for the vehicle.
• Unanimous approval to declare the 2005 city ambulance surplus and submit it to bids with a minimum bid of $ 5,000.
• Change orders approved in the Pine Street project. The first was $ 4,140 for the excavation of an additional concrete pad, more than originally planned. The second change, totaling up to $ 15,705, involved the replacement of the concrete deck and walkway in front of the fire hall and ambulance quarters. The funds to cover the additional costs will come from the Hoodoo Point campsite account, which has the money on hand.
• Asked Morin to speak with Director of Public Works Ben Velcheff about options for filing services for the city. The city’s 1973 grader required a long list of expensive repairs, but the city was unable to easily replace the equipment.
• Accepted Velcheff’s recommendation to leave the city’s seaplane docks in place during the winter. The docks cannot be easily removed due to the extremely low water levels.
• Briefly discussed but took no action on the latest rewrite of Order 2, dealing with utility connections.
• Heard a brief description, but took no action, on the 2022 budget process. Ranua noted that the board will need to approve a proposed 2022 levy at its September 27 meeting.

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