Crow Wing County commissioners talked Tuesday about increasing the planning and zoning enforcement staff but declined to change a team leader into a department director, at least for now.
Peter Herlofsky Jr., county administrator, had recommended changing Dennis Myers' planning and zoning enforcement officer's title to director and raising his pay by $14,000 per year. Commissioners balked at the raise and differed on whether a director was needed. They agreed to give Myers a raise, although a lesser amount, and keep him a team leader through 2005. They also agreed to revisit the issue when discussing the 2006 budget.
Commissioner Ed Larsen said he had a problem with how the entire issue evolved.
"Somehow all of a sudden we got from a lead position to a planning and zoning director and I don't remember the board saying let's go with a director," Larsen said.
Myers' position morphed, said Commissioner Dewey Tautges. This spring commissioners named Myers as the "go-to" guy in the planning and zoning department. A department organizational chart had both Myers and Bonnie Finnerty, county planner, reporting to Herlofsky. Commissioners said they considered the department one entity with two functions -- one in planning and one in operations.
Tuesday a revised chart presented to the board had the entire planning department going through Myers and he reported to Herlofsky.
Larsen said he did not want to take away from the enforcement side as he continues to get calls from people wondering what was happening with complaints.
"I wanted a director," Commissioner Dewey Tautges said. "And I'm happy with this direction."
Commissioner John Ferrari said he also wanted a "go-to guy."
However, Commissioner Terry Sluss asked if the board was hiring a director shouldn't the position be opened to other candidates. Sluss said the board never had discussion to move away from the way the department was organized in a team concept to a sole director.
"I thought it was working," Sluss said of the team style. "That's where I have the problem."
If the board wants a director, Sluss said it should consider hiring another enforcement officer. Tautges agreed losing time dedicated to enforcement was a concern.
"I'm not in favor of a director," said Gary Walters, board chairman. "I never have been."
Walters said he thought Myers was functioning as a team leader. He said the rest of the management team received raises for their additional work and now the idea was to hire a director anyway. Walters said he thought the team management style was more cost-effective for the county.
Larsen suggested keeping Myers as a team leader and giving him a raise, retroactive to June 1, for the additional workload. The raise, increasing Myers' wages from $3,357 per month to $4,029 per month, puts him in a range equal to a highway supervisor or deputy auditor position, Herlofsky said.
RENEE RICHARDSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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