TOWER— The city council here, on Monday, accepted the resignation of Clerk-Treasurer Victoria Ranua and formed an ad hoc committee to begin the search for her replacement. Ranua announced …
TOWER— The city council here, on Monday, accepted the resignation of Clerk-Treasurer Victoria Ranua and formed an ad hoc committee to begin the search for her replacement. Ranua announced earlier this month that she would be leaving her position to pursue a business venture she’s been planning for more than a decade.
She will continue in her employment as both a Tower firefighter and an emergency medical responder.
The council also voted to approve the immediate posting of the position in local newspapers and with the League of Minnesota Cities, which has a widely-used job posting service for city positions. City attorney Mitch Brunfelt told the council that they could advertise the position prior to drafting a new job description. Ranua, in an agenda brief she prepared on the subject, had suggested the council refine the job description before posting, but Brunfelt argued that wasn’t necessary.
The draft job description prepared by Ranua highlighted the all-encompassing nature of the position as it has evolved in Tower over the years. The position oversees all administrative functions of the city, oversees all city departments, utilities, public works, parks and playground, 2,000 acres of forest land, a busy airport, and emergency services. The position oversees approximately 40 employees and an annual city budget of about $3.9 million.
The position currently pays about $53,000 per year.
Mayor Orlyn Kringstad suggested that the ad hoc committee would want to consider possible adjustments in the wage range for the position, although other members of the council seemed to argue against a new look at the wage. The council was generally not receptive to Ranua’s arguments earlier this year for a pay rate commensurate with the responsibilities of the position. The council did provide her a three -percent raise this year yet she will leave her post after more than a year and a half still earning about $3,000 less than her predecessor, Linda Keith.
The council did take action to appoint members of a hiring committee, including Kringstad, Nancy Larson, the city’s grant manager, former Clerk-Treasurer Ann Lamppa, current Deputy Clerk Treasurer Terri Joki Martin, and council member Joe Morin. The council set no timeline for the search and will keep the application date open-ended. Ranua has agreed to continue in her position until a replacement can be trained in. “There would be a great benefit to having some overlap,” said Morin. “The length of that would be dependent on the qualifications of the new person.”
In other business, City Attorney Mitch Brunfelt introduced Karl Sundquist as a new attorney with the Colosimo firm, who would likely be providing legal assistance to the city. Sundquist most recently served as an Assistant St. Louis County Attorney, based in Virginia. Brunfelt noted that recent retirements had left the Colosimo firm shorthanded and that has created some delays in their ability to respond to issues and questions raised by city officials. Brunfelt said the hiring of Sundquist is part of the firm’s effort to provide quality legal services to its clients.
The council also heard from Dave Rose under public input, who reported on progress at his RV park. He said he received the “go-ahead” from the Department of Labor and Industry for his utility and plumbing design, but is still waiting for the sign-off by the Department of Health. He also said he has a letter from the Department of Natural Resources granting permission to remove river pilings in front of a portion of his property, to allow for campers to dock boats along the river.
In other action, the council:
• Approved a resolution authorizing application to the Office of Management and Budget for additional bonding funds for the joint Tower-Breitung water treatment plan and the city water main improvement project.
• Received a report from recent sewer line camera work, which indicated two areas that are likely sources of significant inflow and infiltration into the wastewater treatment system.
• Heard an update on the police advisory committee, which will be hosting public meetings this coming week to take input from the public. Those meetings are set for Wednesday, June 23 at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Breitung town hall, Thursday, June 24, at 6 p.m. at the Herbert Lamppa civic center, and Friday, June 25, at 9 a.m., also at the civic center.
• Approved a resolution allowing for the temporary transfer of money from the city’s general fund to the special ambulance fund to cover a $21,000 payment to the state, which will result in reimbursement of approximately $49,000, according to Ranua. Once paid by the state, she said the ambulance fund would reimburse the general fund. By approving the fund transfer by resolution, Ranua noted that the city is following the provisions of the charter.
• Heard a report by Morin on a quote he received for approximately $6,000 to extend a 60 amp electrical service to the harbor area to allow for the operation of food carts or musical entertainment as a way to draw people to the area. He said he would try to obtain additional quotes.
• Took no action on the suggestion by Ranua to consider replacement of one of the large garage doors at the fire hall. She said a garage door tech who came to conduct some minor repairs said the city should consider replacement as soon as possible due to the age and condition of the door.