Arden Hills City Council still searching for new city administrator

The fact that Arden Hills hasn't yet filled the position of city administrator, which opened up last fall, isn't because city leaders aren't trying. 

Mayor David Grant said they just want to find the right person for the job.

Arden Hills began working with a hiring firm last October, after the retirement of city administrator Pat Klaers, who had worked for the city for several years and got the ball rolling on the redevelopment of the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site.

Grant said there are always a lot of people who apply for such a position, but he said it's important to find the right skill set. That's what the firm is there for, he said, to weed out the realistic applicants from the unrealistic ones.

According to the mayor and council member Brenda Holden who together form the personnel committee, appointed by the city council to lead in the hiring process for the position, the actually pool of realistic candidates this winter was not a large one. 

All about the timing

Grant said the lack of quality applications may have had something to do with the time of year, explaining that these types of positions tend to be more sought after in the warmer months. 

"If you're married with kids, and you're thinking about schools and all that, a summer move is a little bit easier." Grant said. "Typically, you see the pool of applicants grow in the summer."

Besides, he added, there's "not the same rush" to fill the spot that there might be in another city.

"We have a very strong staff here," Grant said. "Our finance director is acting as the interim city administrator."

The council agreed Jan. 25 that Sue Iverson, director of finance and administrative services, will continue to perform the responsibilities of city administrator until someone is hired later this year. Grant emphasized the convenience of relying on current staff rather than needing to contract out for an interim city administrator.

TCAAP plays a part

Another reason Grant thinks waiting to hire someone is a good idea is because the redevelopment of the TCAAP site — called Rice Creek Commons — will be further along. 

"I think that'll be a draw," he said. "When we get to the point that we have a developer, it's got to be more exciting for someone who likes to do things, create things and build things. But at this point it's a lot of dotting the i's and crossing the t's. It will become much more exciting."

During the Jan. 25 city council meeting, there was a discussion of a potential candidate from a "neighboring state." 

Though the individual hasn't formally applied, Grant said, the council members appeared to be interested in him. 

"[The candidate] said he wasn't really looking, but that he might be interested," Grant said. "This summer he'll probably be willing to consider it more seriously."

According to Grant, the hiring firm found this man, whose identity the council is keeping anonymous, and all parties involved think the fit might be a good one. 

"By virtue of his job title and how it appears at least on paper, he seems like he'd be well qualified."

But Grant said the city would reach out for more applicants come summer as well. 

Jesse Poole can be reached at jpoole@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815. Follow him on Twitter @JPooleNews.

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