January 17, 2021

Succession plan finalized for Colfax Public Works Director

A succession plan for the Colfax Public Works Director position, focusing on replacing retiring director Bob Rhone, was finalized during the city council’s January workshop. The plan, which has flexibility built in, includes an overlap period for training from Rhone.

“We are looking at a mid-January posting, leaving the posting up for approximately 45 days and closing it on or about March 1. That will allow us a couple of days to review resumes and cover letters and schedule interviews on or about March 5,” city administrator Wade Wagoner said. “Then, we would hold the interviews in the coming month.”

Following the interviews, Wagoner said the goal would be going into the April 12 council meeting to have a recommendation as to who they would like to hire. With that time frame, the applicant would have two to three weeks to submit a notice to their current employer.

“The goal is to have that position filled Monday, May 3. That would allow an approximate 10-day overlap with the current public works director for training and to answer questions,” Wagoner said. “Then, Bob’s retirement would be May 14.”

Currently, councilmen Bryan Poulter and Curtis Small are council designees for public works. If available, they would represent the council during the interview process.

Councilwoman Karla Jones asked if the amount of time scheduled for overlap would be sufficient. Wagoner said the topic was discussed at length and after speaking with colleagues, they found about two weeks was the right amount of time. Any longer, and the process begins to drag on.

“My one concern is this is option number one,” mayor David Mast said. “If we get to March 1 and we haven’t gotten a real applicant is there enough time to go to alternative two and three or whatever we need to get this filled. Or are you optimistic you will get this filled?”

Wagoner said that is a concern but in that case, the city could look to a sharing agreement with another entity. Also, he said if the city gets into a pickle, Rhone has stated he would stay on another couple of weeks, if necessary.

The hiring process does have some flexibility built in, giving the city the opportunity to shift direction, if needed.

“The one area that we could constrict would be leaving it open 45 days. We could reduce that to 30. Some people said 60 days, some said 30, so we went in the middle at 45,” Wagoner said. “There is also wiggle room built in with, quite frankly we could review the resumes in a day or two and see who we want to interview. It probably wouldn’t take us a whole month to interview.”

Councilman Brad Magg chimed in that the word on the street was there are some strong applicants that are interested in the position.

Another piece of the position discussed was pay. The council reviewed what the outgoing director was bringing in, which included a significant amount of overtime pay. Based on that number, the council decided to go with a range of $24 to $29 per hour and include “salary depending on qualifications.”

“You can also change, when you are actually doing something, you can make it higher, when the council actually hires someone. You’re not bound to that,” Mast said.

Wagoner did suggest having a number to give applicants. Often, salary is one of the first questions asked during the interview process.

“They want to know whether or not they are wasting their time and if it is the salary increase they are looking for,” Wagoner said.

Making the position salary instead of hourly was also brought up. City clerk Nancy Earles addressed the change with information regarding the work done by the director.

“I really don’t think we can go to a salary position. In talking to a representative at the League of Cities, you have to kind of draw a line in the sand and he said when he was city administrator the line in the sand was 30 percent,” Earles said. “I feel that 30 percent of outside manual labor, then it is a salary position but I would say the current position is probably 85 to 90 percent manual labor.”

City staff will move forward with the recommendations discussed by council for the director position.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com