Marshall City Council OKs city admin contract

MARSHALL — The Marshall City Council made things official with a new city administrator on Tuesday. At their regular meeting, council members voted to approve an employment agreement with finalist candidate Sharon Hanson. Hanson, the current Pipestone County administrator, was one of two finalists interviewed by the council last week.

Under the employment agreement, Hanson’s first day of work in Marshall will be Nov. 16.

Interim city administrator Sheila Dubs said she’s had conversations with Hanson, and Hanson toured the Marshall city offices on Friday.

“I am very excited to start working with her,” Dubs said. She said other city staff members are also looking forward to working with Hanson.

The employment agreement with Hanson includes a gross salary of $122,782, which will increase to $126,776 in January. The agreement also includes reimbursement of up to $7,500 for moving costs if Hanson relocates to Marshall.

There was some discussion about the employment agreement, however. City Council member Glenn Bayerkohler had questions for search consultant Gary Weiers and Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes, who were part of the negotiation process with Hanson. In particular, Bayerkohler asked about terms of the agreement that differed from the employment agreement with previous city administrator Nicholas Johnson.

One area of discussion was termination benefits in Hanson’s employment agreement. The agreement includes six months’ salary and health benefits if Hanson is terminated without cause. Bayerkohler asked why the terms included six months of benefits instead of three.

“Three months is generally a starting point of negotiations,” Weiers said. Negotiations of this agreement resulted in the six-month term, he said.

Bayerkohler also had questions about the salary level included in the employment agreement. Hanson’s salary would essentially be $126,776. In comparison, Bayerkohler said, Johnson’s employment agreement included a salary of about $98,800. The Lyon County administrator currently has a salary of about $112,000, Bayerkohler said.

“I would caution us on re-negotiating” the agreement in council discussion, Byrnes said.

“I think we should be tougher negotiators,” Bayerkohler said. The action before the council Tuesday was to decide whether to accept the terms of the agreement, he said.

Council member Craig Schafer didn’t think it was appropriate to bring the Lyon County administrator salary into the discussion.

“I think it does a serious disservice to the council,” Schafer said.

“If they are comparable positions, they should have comparable salaries,” Bayerkohler said. County administrator salaries are also public information, he said.

“We did, as a council, authorize the mayor and Gary (Weiers) to negotiate” with Hanson, said council member Steven Meister. Meister said he trusted them and moved to approve the employment agreement.

The council voted 6-1 to approve the agreement, with Bayerkohler casting the vote against.