Officials consider replacement
WORTHINGTON -- City of Worthington staff and elected officials met Tuesday with a retired city manager about possibly working in that capacity here on a part-time basis.
Worthington City Administrator Bob Filson has been hospitalized for the past several weeks, and it is unknown when he will be discharged or be able to return to work. As a result, the city has begun discussing the hiring of Bill Bassett, who served as city manager in Mankato for 28 years, to fill in temporarily.
Bassett would likely work about two days per week, though details such as hours and compensation haven't been finalized. Bassett recently served as an interim administrator for the City of Northfield, working for five months between October 2005 and February.
"This is not job for me in terms of long-term aspirations," Bassett said. "I'm a retired man, and that's what I want to be."
Bassett added that he hadn't intended to consider taking another interim position -- noting he recently turned down an offer from Big Lake -- but said the connection in Worthington with Filson makes a difference.
"Bob is a real dear friend of mine, so I thought this was something I couldn't make a weak excuse for," Bassett said.
Mayor Alan Oberloh and Bassett were to meet with Filson after Tuesday's session with city staff and the council. Oberloh told council members that the potential hiring of Bassett already has approval from Filson.
"Bob told me, 'Bill will be a fresh set of eyes looking at the city structure. Just let him take some time and see what's going on,'" Oberloh said. "Bob said to me, 'It's probably time to look at bringing in an interim.'"
Director of Public Safety Mike Cumiskey was one of several who spoke of the need to hire a temporary administrator.
"There's been day-to-day stuff we've been good at doing, but at some point, there's always going to be a question. ... We need that point man," Cumiskey said.
Work and decisions on other city issues require the authority of an administrator, others agreed. A local option sales tax referendum allowed by the state for 2006 was one subject of discussion -- city leaders hope to delay offering such a referendum until 2007, though they're unsure if they will be able to do so under state law.
Bassett said two local option sales tax referendums were offered while he was city manager in Mankato, and that he would be able to provide direction on the matter.
"I think that's a real role we could use help with," Councilman Mike Woll said.
"I think we're extremely fortunate to come up with someone of Bill's caliber," Councilman Bob Petrich added.
Bassett also indicated he has a unique tie to Worthington, as wife Pamela was once a Turkey Queen in the city while attending what's now known as Minnesota West Community and Technical College.
Council members will likely consider the hiring of Bassett at their March 27 regular meeting.