City council hires public works/zoning director

Craig Moorhead

The Caledonia Argus

By a 3-2 vote, the Caledonia City Council hired a public works and zoning director on Monday, June 26. According to the job description, the full-time post will “supervise the Department of Public Works and administer the city’s zoning and planning services.”

Councilman Bob Burns served on the Personnel Committee. “We interviewed two candidates for the position,” he reported. “One candidate would not be interested in the position as a non-union position (and) felt that it should be a union position. The other candidate is fine with it being a non-union position.

“The situation is, do we stick with the non-union (job description) or do we feel that it should be union? Right now we have it advertised showing that they’d be involved with hiring, discipline, and so forth. There’s five or six different things that we added in the job description that results in it becoming a non-union city salaried position.

“So, if we stick with a non-union position, we only have one to pick from.”

Members debated the matter for a half-hour at that point. A union worker could perform certain hands-on tasks (labor) which a non-union hire would only be able to supervise, the council decided. But having an additional supervisor on staff also had some advantages, Burns added.

Those responsibilities were delineated when members voted to re-advertise the job (as non-union) on May 22. They included (among other tasks) directing work among multiple city departments, assisting with the hiring of employees, issuing discipline as well as rewards and recognition, and serving as an employer representative in the grievance process.

“Do you want to give a new employee that’s green the authority to discipline?” Mayor DeWayne Schroeder asked. “The old guy didn’t have that authority.” The second candidate (who preferred a non-union position) also has more experience, he noted.

Burns finally made a motion to hire (as a non-union employee) Casey Klug, “to replace Mike Gerardy at a beginning salary of $50,000, as advertised, and (set) a six month probationary period with a $2,500 increase at the end of the six months.”

Burns, along with council members Paul Fisch and Randi Vick voted “aye,” while Schroeder and councilman Robert Lemke said “nay.”

Public hearing for CUP,

variances

The council called a public hearing to discuss a conditional use permit (CUP) and series of setback variances for Henry Becker to replace a structure at 320 S. 1st Street.

Becker said that the 48 x 140 foot storage building would have the same footprint as an earlier structure at “the old lumber yard.” It would be the first of two new buildings. Both will fit on sites previously occupied.

Three variances and the CUP for the project were granted following the public hearing, which Becker alone attended. The first setback variance was for 83 feet (from the east property line). The second shaves off 79 feet of the south property line setback, while the third eliminates 20 feet from the west setback.

Other votes, news

• Members accepted two quotes for curb and gutter work. Meyer Concrete LLC (205 S. Hokah St., Caledonia) will tear out and replace sections of East South Street for $23,875, while Meyer Brothers Inc. (712 E. Grant Street, Caledonia) will work on South Ramsey and Decorah Streets. That quote totaled $11,508.

• City administrator Adam Swann reported on several items. The diving board at the new city swimming pool is expected to be re-installed on July 5-6. Posting the new “administrative assistant” job at the Caledonia Police Department is “at a standstill” without a memorandum of understanding from the union that the job would fall under, he added. Davy Engineering (La Crosse) recommends switching the city’s waste water treatment facility from an anaerobic to an aerobic system, which may allow the the plant to be reclassified as a class B facility, Swann stated. But that changeover would “be a pretty significant process in terms of both time and money,” the administrator said, and would  require Minnesota Pollution Control Agency approval. In the meantime, the city will still need to fix the boilers, Schroeder said.

• The council also voted to fill cracks on a basketball court at Veteran’s Memorial Park, then re-seal the surface at a total cost of $1,000. Burns reported that a resident has offered to pay for improvements to the basketball backboards, rims and nets. “The city does have a painting machine (to re-line the court),” he noted.

“Because the pool is up there now, we have more activity,” Burns said. “We have more kids up there.”

“We have it looking nice up there now,” Vick said. Fisch agreed. The motion to spruce up the court came from Burns, and passed by unanimous vote.