Assistant manager isn’t beneficial

Published 9:39 am Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and certainly the mayor is entitled to his, but that is just what it seems to be, an opinion. Tim Engstrom explained it best in an article he wrote about “Understanding Tribune letters to the editor.” He said opinions could be interpreted in many ways, to be skeptical and to understand that letters and other forms of opinion writing, what is factual, is in the eye of the beholder.

The mayor says it is the city manager’s job to fill positions as appropriate. I didn’t understand that statement so I looked up the definition of appropriate and one of the definitions is “to take possession of or make use of exclusively for oneself, often without permission” which seemed like an appropriate definition in any discussion about having an assistant city manager.

The mayor talks about moving forward in support. That is very difficult to do when you do not support the process or the end result. I also do not believe all of the councilors support this decision.

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I submitted the following letter to the council on March 24.

As I write this e-mail I am looking at a job description for the duties of the city manager position.  I believe the city manager needs to concentrate on what those duties entail and approach them more as an ambassador, than a dictator, between the city, the council and the city’s residents and he would be more effective.

The assistant city manager’s position only benefits one individual and that’s the city manager. I do not believe this position benefits the city organization or the community as a whole. The position should have never been recreated and now you have an opportunity to correct that error and save $100,000 in wages and benefits instantly, without reorganizing the city departments or waiting 10 years to see the savings. That savings, if it needs to be spent, could be redirected to areas where it would be much more effective and useful or possibly it could be used to hire a qualified and experienced city planner.

The Finance Department is already being funded and I believe that funding would be better utilized with a qualified and experienced in-house finance director, than spending it on a telecommuting part time finance consultant. We need someone who is knowledgeable and readily accessible to answer questions about the finance program being used by the city and finance in general. I believe this department more than any other has to function at its highest possible level.

Rather than paying three people to do two jobs or having numerous middle management assistants, I believe we would be much better off with truly qualified and experienced department heads. I believe that would make the city manager’s job easier, by allowing him to rely on their training and expertise and then holding those department heads accountable, then he could do his job and wouldn’t have to try to run all the departments from his office.


Gary Hagen

Albert Lea