City Manager Kelly Pehrson proposed to the council that Recreation Director Greg Westfall be promoted to Assistant City Manager to replace Ruth Skouson, who held the position before accepting work in Grand County.
The council held a special meeting on August 16 to discuss replacing Skouson. Pehrson presented a list of cost savings that have occurred due to recent attrition in staffing, and a list of grants that have been obtained by Skouson in the position.
Councilman Craig Leavitt questioned the need for an immediate decision, to which Mayor Doug Allen said that the position was essential and many departments count on it.
Councilman Brad Randall asked why the city was dependant on the position, to which Allen responded that the City Manager relies heavily on the Assistant, and there had been citizen complaints previously about projects not moving forward.
Councilman Walter Bird said the position was created to help with code enforcement as well as planning and zoning concerns. After a motion by Councilman Scott Shakespeare to hire a new Assistant City manager and look at a salary reduction, the council passed the motion with a vote of 3-2. Randall and Leavitt voting against the motion.
Pehrson said that Westfall is almost finished with his masters degree in public administration and can learn the system as quickly as a new hire. Pehrson said he is concerned that the reduction in salary would mean a new employee with no experience.
Pehrson said Westfall has a great business mind, wants to be a City Manager, already lives in Monticello and has local ties which may lead to him staying longer.
Pehrson said Westfall would oversee the recreation program, and a summer contractor would work on the programs. The contract would run from June 1 to October 31.
Pehrson recommended starting Westfall at the same salary Skouson started. With the benefits package, the cost to the city would increase $5,500 from Skouson’s salary. The summer contract will be offered at $10,000. Removing the remainder of Westfall’s recreation salary from the city budget, and taking out the difference in cost for benefits, the savings to the city is estimated at $37,809.
Shakespeare said saving money and still covering all the needs is the objective of the council in regards to staffing.
Pehrson reminded the council that Westfall would still oversee recreation programs and they should not suffer from the change. Westfall said he will continue to promote the triathalon and other city events to help them grow and prosper.
Randall said that since the assistant city manager position had been advertised , the ethical thing would be to complete the process, allow applications to come in, and interview for the position.
Randall said that the job descriptions of both positions need to be completed before hires are made, in order to keep future problems from occurring regarding new job duties that are being assigned. Councilmen Scott Frost and Shakespeare disagreed that it would be unethical to pull the position at this point.
Shakespeare made a motion to fill the position with Greg Westfall and restructure the staff, advertising for a summer contract employee for recreation programs. Council passed the motion 4-1 with Randall voted against the motion, stating he would rather wait two weeks before making a decision.
Westfall updated the council on the swimming pool. He reported that they have been able to keep the pool open on it’s current schedule, as they were able to keep two lifeguards on staff.
Westfall stated that the pool was well used during the swimming season, and that there had been many public comments regarding schedule and fees that the recreation board will discuss in the off season.
The city plans to keep the pool open through September and then they will work with Aqua-tech to winterize the pool.
Frost asked about the rental use, and Westfall stated that approximately 3/4 of the available rental times were filled. Frost also asked if pool income was enough to pay more than lifeguards.
Westfall said the pool was covering more than employee costs through the summer, but that the longer they are open, the amount of money coming in decreases. Approximately 25 kids attend the 3:30 to 6:30 session currently, which puts them on the edge of breaking even to pay the lifeguards.
Pehrson said they are finalizing the swimming pool budget to determine funds for landscaping. One bid packet for the project had $18,500 for trees, sod, and sprinkling system, among other things.
Pehrson suggested the council wait until next year to landscape when they have final numbers on the project. He said that remaining Community Impact Board funds could be used at that time and they would hope to get more bidders and a better price.