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Reorganization coming for Marshall city finance department

MARSHALL — Marshall’s city finance department will undergo some reorganization next year, with a new position opening up that will oversee both finance and the municipal liquor store. Marshall City Administrator Sharon Hanson said the move will absorb some of the job responsibilities from a vacant city position, as well as helping with financial planning for the city.

However, while council members voted to approve the proposal, they did hear objections from council member Glenn Bayerkohler. Bayerkohler said he was concerned about what he called the “demotion” of the current city finance director.

“In simple terms, what is happening is that the assistant finance director is now becoming the boss of the finance department, and the finance director is becoming the subordinate,” Bayerkohler said.

At the council’s Tuesday meeting, Hanson went over the proposal to open a director of administrative services position next year.

“For 2019, the opportunity exists to realign some positions,” Hanson said. She was recommending the city not hire a new executive assistant in the city administration department, after the current executive assistant retires in January. “This is due in part to advances in technology and changes in the way we work. A majority of that particular position, based on current operations, would not need to be met or filled going forward.”

Hanson said the city could reorganize its financial department at the same time. Duties and responsibilities for the new director of administrative services would include strategic planning and analysis for city finances, assisting with city bond issues, overseeing special assessment records and certifications, and assisting the city administrator with budget preparation. The director of administrative services would also supervise both the Marshall city finance director and the liquor store manager. Currently, finance and the liquor store are two separate city divisions.

Under the proposal, the director of administrative services position would have the same pay rates and step increases as the finance director position does now. At the same time, the finance director position would have decreased pay rates, and the Marshall city clerk position would have increased pay rates.

In terms of annual salary, the change would mean the city financial director would have an annual salary of about $83,992 by the end of 2019 — a pay cut of about $10,273. The new director of administrative services would have a salary of $88,613 by the end of 2019. The city clerk would have a salary of $54,189 by the end of 2019, which would be a pay increase of $5,247.

Even with the salary changes, Hanson said the reorganization would save the city about $40,859, partly because the executive assistant position would be eliminated.

“Many discussions have taken place with finance staff” on the proposal, going back as far as April, Hanson said. Job descriptions in the proposal were reviewed with staff, who gave their input, she said.

However, Bayerkohler spoke out against the proposal.

“What we have here is a demotion of the finance director position,” he said. “She has fewer responsibilities, and her pay is going to go down. I don’t think it’s warranted or called for.”

“This was discussed in the personnel committee, and there’s a number of things that I certainly don’t see it the way Glenn has described,” said council member John DeCramer.

“We’ve hired a city administrator to set up a department and a staff,” DeCramer said. He, Steven Meister, and Craig Schafer — all members of the council personnel committee — said the city administrator had discretion to open the director of administrative services position. Marshall has had a director of administrative services in the past, DeCramer said.

Bayerkohler said the city council also had the responsibility to protect the rights of city employees.

“We need to look out for all parts of the city government,” he said.

The council voted 5-1 in favor of the reorganization proposal. Bayerkohler cast the dissenting vote.

In an interview Monday, Hanson said evaluating city staffing needs was something she has been working on since she became city administrator. Her first major area of focus was the building department, which has already undergone a reorganization.

“The other area I had been looking at was the finance department,” Hanson said. “I really thought we needed to have more of a strategic look at (city) finances.”

Being able to bring the municipal liquor store into that process was another important part of the reorganization proposal, she said. When the store is successful, it brings in revenue for the city that might otherwise come from property taxes.

Hanson said the finance department reorganization was meant to realign existing talent on city staff, like the reorganization of the building department did.

“I think we’ve been methodical, and we’ve been careful,” she said.

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