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Employee evaluation discussed

By Staff | Oct 31, 2014

Employee evaluations dominated discussion at two committee meetings of the Rugby City Council on Tuesday.

The Public Works Committee met first, chaired by Ward 4 Council Member Terry Wentz. Committee members Neil Lotvedt (Ward 1) and Craig Zachmeier (Ward 4) attended, along with Mayor Arland Geiszler. Public Works Supervisor Rick Larson was present.

Zachmeier said a top goal for the committee is improving employee morale among the city’s public works employees. Zachmeier presented an employee survey form used by Heart of American Correctional and Treatment Center during its noncompliance order with the state.

The form will help identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities for promotions and threats to the city’s safety and health, if employee performances are unsatisfactory.

The committee agreed that evaluating employee performance is a priority.

Larson told the committee that public works employees are working toward commercial driver’s licenses. Larson said he hopes to have another employee hired before winter. The committee discussed advertising for the position with an hourly wage between $15 and $18, though an agreement was not reached on specifics.

The committee also discussed a $810,000 budget for the first phase of improvements to the water plant. The engineer’s estimate for the filter improvements was $660,000. Swanberg Construction, Inc., of Valley City placed the low bid of $526,00. With engineering fees and contingencies, Wentz said the total project could cost as much as $810,000, but he estimates it closer to $750,000.

The committee reviewed a letter from Carole Mettler regarding safety concerns for her grandchildens’ walk to and from Ely Elementary School. The children cross 1st Street NW on the east side of 4th Ave. NW, which also serves as the N.D. 3. The Envision (Cenex) parking lot along N.D. 3 creates a blind spot for traffic turning east (right) onto 1st Street.

The committee will look into her request for a painted crosswalk and ‘Watch for Children’ sign near the intersection. Discussion included mention of the possibility of Envision moving in the coming years, which could allow for a curb and sidewalk along N.D. 3.

Mettler also noted sidewalk in poor condition along the underpass and gravel along the same stretch, which makes bicyling difficult and potentially dangerous.

Other safe routes to school were discussed, including the idea of adding sidewalk along 3rd Ave. SE from the high school practice field south to 15th Street and west along 15th. Committee members expressed concerns about safety of young children being dropped off along 3rd Avenue to go to the preschool and Head Start building. Members said the 15 mph zone has helped.

In old business discussed, Larson told the committee that the storm sewer on 15th Street was expected to be finished the following day and pumps will arrive in about one week.

Personnel committee

The Personnel Committee met, chaired by Mayor Geiszler with members Jim Hoffert (Ward 3), Police Chief John Rose and Deputy Auditor Phyllis Johnson present.

The committee members agreed to review a packet of various employee evaluation forms in hopes of reviewing one for city employees at the November committee meeting.

Rose asked if the committee wants to have a different interview standard for department heads.

Geiszler said policies and procedures may be different for each department, but he expects a city employee handbook to be followed by all employees. The committee discussed clarifying a grievance section in the handbook as Rose questioned protection against supervisor retaliation. Geiszler said the North Dakota League of Cities is discussing having a Human Resources employee available to cities.

“We can’t wait for that, but it showed a lot of support from smaller cities,” Geiszler said.

The city has received five applications for the auditor position, vacated in September by Dawn Hauck. The mayor said he is looking at joining the finance committee for the interviews.

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