Monticello City Council considers new hire and economic development
The Monticello City Council discussed a need to hire a new recreation director at length during their meeting August 13 at the Hideout Community Center. Jeremy Avondet, who the city hired two years ago, is resigning from the position on September 13.
Much of the conversation centered on simply defining the recreation director position, which has had several additional duties added to it in recent years.
Monticello City Manager Doug Wright presented information detailing the duties currently in the job description, which include management of adult and youth recreation programs, city pool management, parks ground maintenance, special events coordination, trails maintenance, and city website co-administration.
He also listed needs the city has and tasks the city could possibly contract to free up additional time for city employees. “One of the challenges we face as a small city,” Wright explained, “is that all employees have to wear multiple hats.
“It’s great that we have people who are willing and able to do that, but sometimes it leads to a situation where we have a lot of really good mediocre work done but no excellent work done in any one of those areas.
“Whenever we have a vacancy, I think it’s incumbent upon us to at least consider what are the pressing needs and how can we bring an individual in who will fill those needs and yet maintain the various programs that we need.”
Wright pointed out that the parks department and recreation department seem to go together. But he said the skillset necessary to make the parks look beautiful versus the public relations skills necessary to set up and run a recreation program aren’t necessarily found in the same individual.
He asked the council to consider the most important needs of the city and decide what type of individual they want to serve as recreation director so the city can design effective advertisement for the position.
Chris Baird pointed out that there have been five different recreation directors since he began working for the city five years ago. He explained that each one of them has had tasks added to their job description, which has caused several programs to decline in quality or disappear altogether.
Baird suggested that if the city would like to continue to enjoy good recreation programs, the position should be designed in such a way that the new director can focus strictly on that task. The members of the City Council who were in attendance agreed.
Wright explained that although the recreation director position is full-time, it is not a nine to five position due to the amount of nighttime work it requires.
He said one of the main difficulties of the job is the constant need to find volunteers to coach, umpire, and serve in other support areas.
Wright suggested the city could hire out some tasks such as mowing and weeding so the new recreation director could focus on building the recreation programs back up.
Wright suggested that the city needs to prioritize finding an individual who can run the city recreation programs. The next priority should be to fulfill parks duties.
If that combination can’t be found in one individual, he said there is a possibility the city could shuffle some duties among current employees.
He added that in considering all these things, the city budget is a limiting factor.
Councilman George Rice explained that part of the problem the city faces is that when it hired Avondet, no time was spent defining city needs in the recreation department.
He said the city now has an opportunity to be clear and precise in the recreation director job description. As a result, the city would be better prepared for the interview process and could recruit a quality employee who would know exactly what duties are expected of him or her.
Ultimately, the City Council unanimously approved a motion to hire a full-time employee who will oversee recreation programs, the swimming pool, and parks.
Following the roll-call vote, Wright took responsibility for not providing effective orientation to Avondet, since he had just assumed responsibilities as City Manager and didn’t have a complete understanding of the recreation position.
Monticello Mayor Tim Young added, “We’ve asked a lot of Jeremy. It seems like every day we’re throwing new tasks at him. That’s not fair to anybody – to be getting bombarded by multiple people with multiple jobs. He’s worked hard to keep his head above water.”
In other business, the council approved designs for new city limit signs to be built by Impact Signs of Salt Lake City and installed at all three entrances to the city. Monticello City Recorder Cindi Holyoak said the signs are beautiful, classy, and will make a great statement for the city.
The low-maintenance signs will feature a cabinet made of one-and-a-half-inch angle iron with decorative rock. The sign itself will be a woodland brown timber tech overlay with 3D mountain art and lettering made of brushed copper anodized aluminum.
The total project cost is estimated at $35,400, which the city anticipates will be paid for by a combination of Transient Room Tax funds from the city and San Juan County.
In other discussion, the council considered the economic direction of the city. Councilwoman Bayley Hedglin proposed the city identify three to five projects to take on for 2020. The city would then put those projects out to bid and decide which ones would be worth pursuing.
Hedglin detailed that some of the economic development momentum that was underway in Monticello ground to a halt with the dissolution of the Monticello Foundation. She said she hopes to help revive a similar organization, but in the meantime, it’s something the City Council can look into.
The council scheduled a work meeting in September to better understand what economic development means and how the city should pursue it.