by nathan oster
The Greybull Town Council is proceeding with plans to hire an administrator who would oversee the various departments and take the lead in the development and monitoring of the town’s budget.
Council members voted during a special meeting Feb. 20 to begin advertising for an administrator/finance director and to formally do away with the public works director position and instead hire a town foreman.
Town Clerk Kathy Smith suggested the council consider the hiring of an administrator in a memo. She cited several recent developments, from the changes atop the public works department following the termination of Randy Rumpler, followed soon thereafter by the sudden departure of his replacement, Mike Packer, as well as the impending retirement of deputy/court clerk Kay Mattis in June, as reasons for her reorganization plan.
Smith said in the memo the “position changes that would benefit the town and assist us in a more progressive direction.” Smith cited in her memo the need for “more professional assistance” that would “take some burdens off the mayor and the council and act as a stabilizer from one administration to another.”
The town clerk and treasurer for the past 12 years, Smith proposed that those duties be split, that she move into the clerk position and assume the duties of court clerk (now held by Mattis), and that the treasurer position be redefined as a finance office and include the additional title of administrator.
By hiring an administrator, she said in her memo, the town would relieve some of the duties that fell the public works director and the town clerk/treasurer, and by doing so, Smith said the pay for those two positions could be reduced and the public works director could become more of a town foreman.
Smith said her proposal would not have a dramatic impact financially on the town, though some of that would depend upon the pay for the administrator. Her preliminary estimate for an increase was set at $8,000.
During the special meeting, Smith conceded that the new position could cost slightly more than that.
In the ad appearing in this week’s issue, the town is seeking a person to “perform accounting and budgetary duties for the town,” along with “the supervision of department heads.”
The salary will depend upon experience, but the town is proposing in the range of $58,000 to $62,000.
Discussion at the special meeting focused on the need for the position. Mayor Frank Houk said administrators have worked in Star Valley and Moorcroft and that they’re becoming more common in smaller communities. Lovell had one, but does not at the present time.
Houk described the administrator as “a full-time overseer” of the entire municipal operation.
Councilor Bob Graham was a strong supporter of the proposal, saying an administrator would function like a superintendent does for the school district — in other words, he or she would oversee all departments and report directly to the council.
Graham said one of the biggest check marks in the “pros” column is that an administrator would be able to pick up some of the work that is now being done — in many cases, at great expense — by the town’s engineering firm. He said an administrator might also be able to do some of the legal work that now falls upon the town’ legal counsel.
Councilor Bob McGuire said he had some concerns — including the fact that hiring an administrator would add a layer between the council and staff members. He also expressed concern about the impact the position would have on the town’s budget. Ultimately, though, he voted in favor of the position.
The last half of the special meeting was devoted to the structure of the public works department — and specifically, whether the town needed to add another employee. Betty Runyan and Joe Scott were recently brought on as the newest members of the crew.
Dalen Davis, who took over for Packer, is currently serving as the foreman. The other members include Brenda Peterson, who is in charge of the parks and snow removal; Jose Nevarez, who is back on the garbage truck; Roberta Nelson, who has been running the street sweeper and doing sewer work, and Steve Nielson, who handles the recycling program and reads meters.
The town will look to add a permanent foreman — but council members opted during the special meeting to first fill the administrator/finance director position before seeking applicants.