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Mayor to appoint police chief

December 20, 2011
Jodelle Greiner - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

BLUE EARTH - Blue Earth Mayor Rob Hammond has decided to exercise his authority to appoint a police chief.

Hammond and City Attorney David Frundt submitted memos to the City Council on Monday regarding Section 6.01 of the City Charter, which says the mayor can appoint a subordinate officer, such as city administrator, city attorney and city engineer.

The council would then ratify or reject the appointment.

Hammond did some research and verified that former Mayor Ronald Nesbit appointed Dean Vereide as police chief. Hammond told the council that he wants to re-open the application process to the current three police officers for an internal promotion, as early as today.

"I think we have good police officers in town," said Hammond, adding that he thinks all three have the education and qualifications to make them equal to past chiefs. "Hopefully, all three apply."

"If we hire one of our officers, is the intent to hire another officer to replace [the one hired]?" asked Councilman Glenn Gaylord.

"Yes," Hammond said.

The applicants will undergo an interview process by Sheriff Mike Gormley and City Administrator Kathy Bailey, then Hammond will chose one to recommend. If none of the current officers applies or if Hammond does not feel he can recommend any, he will open up the application process to outside applicants.

"What gives the mayor the authority to determine the procedure to appoint?" questioned resident Mike Enger.

"Absence in provision," Hammond said. "We look to state law. If it doesn't have it, I guess I determine."

Councilman John Huisman made a motion that the personnel committee sit in on the interview process so more people's opinions factor into the decision. Hammond ruled the motion out of order.

Huisman and Councilman John Gartzke said the council should be involved in the interviews, to give them a chance to get to know the applicants.

Councilman Rick Scholtes said the council will have a chance to question the person Hammond appoints.

Huisman and Gartzke say they want to ask all the candidates questions.

Hammond was asked how fast he wants to proceed with presenting an appointee.

"As quick as I legally can do it," he replied.

Scholtes asked if Hammond could have a name for the council to vote on in two weeks.

"I'd like to," Hammond said.

In other business, the council discussed the Government Accounting Standards Board fund balance policy. Bailey said the council needs to set a percentage of the annual expenditures of the general and special revenue funds that should be available for operations.

"The amount is the necessary funds for the city to meet its daily cash or bill-paying needs," Bailey said. "Cities receive most of the general fund and special revenue funding from sources either yearly, quarterly or on a half year basis follow the period in which the costs have occurred. This can create a shortage of funds.

"As with a private business operation, having a prudent amount available is 'good' business," Bailey said. "This available balance also affects the city's credit and bonding capabilities just as it would for a business."

She said the state auditor finds balances of 35 percent to 50 percent acceptable.

Hammond asked Bailey to name a percentage at the next meeting.

In other action, the council:

o Set a hearing on the 2012 street project report for the second meeting in January. The hot topic is whether to put in sidewalks with all the streets undergoing construction, a select number or none of them.

Some council members say they have received calls about children playing in the streets because there are no sidewalks. Others said walkers and runners prefer sidewalks. One said a trend is no sidewalks.



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