Winnebago City Council is “thinking outside of the box” in their search for a new city administrator.
City officials have decided not to pay South Central Service Cooperative a fee of more than $8,500 to find candidates to replace Jake Skluzacek.
“It’s sad to leave. It’s been a hard two-and-a-half years,” says Skluzacek. “I just think I have to leave and it’s something I have to do.”
At the Jan. 11 council meeting, Skluzacek submitted his letter of resignation with his last day on the job being Jan. 20.
Mayor Scott Robertson says the council should focus on trying to find a person with local ties.
“I hate being the stepping stone for the next job. I don’t like all this moving on,” says Robertson. “It’s tough seeing people coming and going so easy. I certainly don’t hold any grudges.”
Councilman Tim Hynes points out that since 2003 there have been six city administrators.
“Unfortunately, in a small town like this a lot of your hiring is like running a college sports team. You get people for thee or five years and they move on,” says Hynes.
Council member Jean Anderson says the next city administrator should be a good leader and progressive.
“I want someone who is innovative. Telling us why something can be done instead or not be done,” she says.
Council members agree whomever is hired should be cross-trained to be able to perform clerk duties.
They also aren’t requiring the person to have a four-year college and are encouraging city employees and area residents with administration experience to apply.
“I don’t want your bachelor’s degree,I want your experience,” says Councilman Calvin Howard.
Discussion during a special meeting held Jan. 18 centered on whether the position should carry a different title, however no change was made.
Councilman Paul Eisenmenger says he would like to see someone hired as a public works director and have the ability to perform administration duties in the front office.
Eisenmenger asked Skluzacek if more pay would have kept him from leaving.
“It’s location, it wasn’t about the pay,” says Skluzacek. “I make enough money to pay my bills and have some left over.”
Skluzcek has accepted a planner’s position at Elko New Market, which is located near his hometown of Lonsdale. His departing annual salary was slightly more than $57,000.
Council members agreed to use local media outlets and city’s website to advertise the position with an application deadline of Feb. 2. That could be extended if there are not enough applicants.
In the meantime, the council approved a $3 per hour pay hike for deputy clerk Judi Hynes to handle some of Skluzacek’s duties.
Police Chief Eric Olson told the council he is willing to help Hynes until someone is hired.
“I want the council to know I helped last time and I am here to do it again,” says Olson. “I don’t care about the pay.”
The council approved having Olson assist administrative staff and will do research regarding additional pay.