Dayton examines options for planning services

With former Assistant to the City Administrator Erin Stwora moving on to another position elsewhere, the Dayton City Council approved a month-to-month contract for planning services with Tina Goodroad of Stantec.

The proposal to utilize Goodroad’s services was initially proposed at the Nov. 13 meeting; however, no action was taken at that time as the council wanted a more detailed contract to be developed by their city attorney.

Although the typical best practices procedure would have council directing staff to secure proposals for such services after a council-approved request for proposal (RFP) or recruitment process has been outlined, the city faced an unusual circumstance in this process.

According to the report prepared by City Administrator Samantha Orduno, Councilor Rick Shermer contacted Otsego’s contract planner at Otsego during his contract hours with that city and requested a proposal from Dan Licht. That proposal was prepared Friday, Nov. 9, prior to the completion of the agenda packet which included the action item for the council to consider planning services.

With Licht’s proposal now public information, if Dayton Council chooses to participate in an RFP process for their long-term goals for the position, Orduno’s report states he could be at a disadvantage going forward.

“It lessens the competitive edge,” said Orduno. It is also considered a breach of accepted procedures and practices.

The council also discussed whether to engage in a recruitment process to replace Stwora in-house or to go out for an RFP for long-term contract planning services.

Mayor Doug Anderson made a case for replacing the planning position in-house.

“Our auditor is always saying there’s not enough separation of duties and not enough staff on-hand,” he said. “We need to allow enough staff here for the level of service people rely on.”

Councilor Scott Hoke also added that a contract planner wouldn’t do many of the tasks Stwora did such as recognize the need for and search for grant money and other duties a full-time planner would take on.

Councilor Tim McNeil questioned whether the current council should make this decision or wait until the new council members come aboard in January. He also suggested considering two positions — one full-time planner and a part-time assistant or reception level position.

While the council did not decide on which avenue to pursue at this time, they directed Orduno to write up a couple variations of job descriptions, one full-time planner and then breaking out the duties into the two positions as McNeil suggested.


In other action at the Nov. 29 meeting, the council:

AUTHORIZED — the mayor to sign and send a letter on behalf of the city council in opposition to the Hennepin County governance legislation for watershed consolidation.

HEARD — an update on the Teakwood Lane culvert installation which protected storm water from overflowing the road and from overtopping a private driveway at 13251 South Diamond Lake Road.

APPROVED — a request for payment number 2 to Knife River Corporation for South Diamond Lake Road Phase 1. The payment is in the amount of $651,317.