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City will look to firm in search for new city administrator

WORTHINGTON -- A five-person committee will proceed with selecting the search firm that will recruit Worthington's next city administrator, the Worthington City Council decided Tuesday night.

Council members voted unanimously to grant the committee -- to be composed of Mayor Alan Oberloh, aldermen Mike Kuhle and Ron Wood, interim city administrator Gary Hoffmann and City Attorney Mark Shepherd -- authority on picking the firm. The decision was made after discussion of whether a firm should be hired, or if the city should proceed in hiring a new administrator on its own.

"I'm concerned about the time commitment it takes to do a search of this nature ourselves," Alderman Lyle Ten Haken said. "Believe me, I'm in favor of saving the city money, but I don't feel qualified enough to look at a bunch of résumés and make a judgment call."

Kuhle suggested contacting an unnamed individual who has already expressed interest in the position before launching into a full-scale search.

"I'm reluctant to just have the first person. ... There might be other great candidates to throw into the discussion," Alderman Mike Woll said.

Oberloh supported Ten Haken's comments about time commitment, but wanted to ensure the council knew what it was doing before granting the power of selecting the search firm to the committee.

"I'm completely comfortable with it," replied Woll, whose response was echoed by others.

It's hoped that a search firm will be selected within the next several days. The hiring process will likely take about three months, and Oberloh noted that the average expense of hiring a new city administrator is $18,000. The new individual will replace Joe Parker, who resigned earlier this month.

In another matter, the council approved a resolution that provides assistance to Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership (SWMHP) for its proposed 24-unit rental housing development. SWMHP is seeking financing from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency through its Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. If funded, SWMHP would be committed to dedicating 21 of the 24 units for people or families who make 60 percent or less of the Area Median Income.

Assistance for the project, which has no set location yet, include: $500 reduction in building permit fees for the project; $10,000 financial contribution for the project via a 0 percent deferred loan at the close of the first mortgage; establishment of a pay-as-you-go tax increment financing district for land acquisition and public improvements related to the project; a donation of $10,000 for specific assessments for regional storm water improvements and street overlay to be completed by the city; and fast-track of its building permit application process.

Money for the loan and donations for specific assessments would come from Small Cities Development Grant funds that must be used for affordable housing.

"The city has a seriously low vacancy rate," said Brad Chapulis, manager of planning and economic development. "This is only one piece of the puzzle."

In other business:

* Approved a resolution supporting the transfer of $5,415,197 from Worthington Regional Hospital to Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation Inc. The resolution included a contingency intended to protect the city from dipping into $21 million in proceeds from the hospital's sale to complete the transfer.

* Approved a request for funding from the Crailsheim Visitor Committee, authorizing funding of up to $6,000 for activities planned during the visit of that city's band to Worthington June 12-18. Highlights of that contingent's visit include a performance at 3 p.m. June 14 at the Windsurfing Regatta and a June 16 joint performance with Worthington's Amazing City Band.

Ryan McGaughey

I first joined the Daily Globe in April 2001 as sports editor. I later became the news editor in November 2002, and the managing editor in August 2006. I'm originally from New York State, and am married with two children.

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