Dayton settles on replacement option for planning position

Since November 2012, Dayton City Council has debated how to address the planning responsibilities of the city. The former planning position was left vacant when Erin Stwora left her position as the assistant to the city administrator. Because her duties were expansive in covering high level planning, information technology issues and other responsibilities, the council has had lengthy discussion in determining how to proceed. A significant changeover in council members has also affected the process.

In December, the former city council approved utilizing Tina Goodroad for planning consultant work while also authorizing a recruitment process for a new city planner to come aboard as a staff member. The position was advertised with 19 applicants submitting resumes.

At the Jan. 8 council meeting, the council suspended the recruitment process and requested a request for proposal (RFP) for planning services to be prepared for considering. At that time, the council wanted to consider filling the planning needs but also had concerns about the clerical and front counter needs.

At the Jan. 22 council meeting, city staff brought forth another alternative — to reduce the job description of the planning staff person to that of a planning associate. This downgraded staff position would come with reduced compensation, require less experience and be an entry  level position that could take over all building permit counter work. The individual in this position would also be the planning commission liaison and do the day-to-day planning, zoning and land use issues. The position would be a full-time staff position.

“The job duties haven’t changed all that much,” said City Administrator Samantha Orduno. “The major difference is less emphasis on independent work.”

The city would retain Goodroad’s consulting services for higher level planning projects and for some training but eventually would be phased out.

“We would be investing in this person,” said Orduno.

The council discussed their options at length. One area of discussion revolved around the pay grid and the grades and steps that would apply. Orduno said it was pretty unusual to go off of the pay grid stating it is implemented because of the complexities of the pay equity law that applies to government employees.

Councilor Scott Salonek suggested it might be of more value to upgrade the position to a little more experience and salary from the planning associate proposal, yet not so far as the original city planner position from December. In that case, he thought they might be able to forgo the continued use of outside contract planning work and ultimately save even more money.

“I see more value in that,” he said.

Mayor Tim McNeil cautioned that the city should probably make room in their budget to handle utilizing outside contract planning services just in case the person hired would need the assistance. He also suggested it may be better to bring someone in at a lower step and grade to allow for the opportunity to reward them with higher pay grade as they improve.

“You don’t want to become salary locked,” he said.

Orduno suggested there could be some leeway depending on the type of applicants they receive.

The council authorized advertising for the planning associate position at a grade 2, step 1 or 2 level depending on qualifications and experience. The pay range is between $38,600 and 48,600. Taxes, health insurnce and other full-time employee benefits add approximately $16,000 to the city’s cost bringing the total estimated cost to around $55,000. This is substantially less than the $91,000 in the 2013 budget for the previous position and allows for the supplemental additional contract planning as needed.

 

Contact Mindy Mateuszczyk at mindy.m@ecm-inc.com

 
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