DPW superintendent position goes unfilled

City Manager Ron Marek
City Manager Ron Marek

Reed City Council divided yet again

REED CITY — A recommendation by Reed City City Manager Ron Marek to hire a new Department of Public Works superintendent was shot down by the Reed City Council at the meeting on Aug. 21. Marek, who has served as the interim DPW Superintendent since Kevin Rambadt retired from the position in February, was instructed by the council after Rambadt’s retirement to post the position, conduct interviews and recommend a candidate for hire. The DPW superintendent’s job duties include supervising the recreation committee, organizing Music and Art in the Park summer programs as well as overseeing jobs with the wastewater treatment team, some duties of which require a special license. Applications for the position were received from 22 people, both current city employees and external candidates. Eight candidates were interviewed and Marek selected Bruce Aittama, of Marion, to recommend for hire based on his experience and qualifications. At the beginning of the Aug. 21 meeting, several citizens commented that the next DPW superintendent should be selected from within current city employees and not from outside the city. The council’s later decision reflected the public comments. A motion made by Councilmen Dave Scharlow not to confirm the appointment, was approved by a vote of 5-2, with council members Darlene Fuller, James Anderlohr, David Bisbee, Phil Rathbun and Scharlow voting for the motion and Mayor Bonnie Danseizen and Marlene Fatum voting against. “I’ve talked to a couple of people who know (Aittama) and I felt that the recommendation was in the best interest in the city,” Danseizen said. “This man had 25 years of experience with a smaller city.” Bisbee said he felt the candidate did not have sufficient knowledge of Reed City to successfully hold the position. “His knowledge of the community was an important concern. We need somebody who knows where pipes are and that sort of thing,” Bisbee said. “(Lack of community knowledge) would be true of anyone who is not a resident.” Another issue in hiring a new DPW superintendent, Bisbee said, was the city not having the money to pay for the supervisor’s position in this year’s budget. “There’s also a budget issue now, we’re very limited. Our own budget situation is extremely tight,” Bisbee said, noting that filling the position may be better considered for next year’s budget. According to section 4.7 of the Reed City Charter, council members are not allowed to interfere with or influence the city manager’s decision on who to hire for city employee positions. After certain council members appeared to be attempting to influence Marek’s decision, City Attorney Dave Porteous cited the charter at the meeting. “Mr. Porteous assured us all (at the council meeting) that the way the DPW Superintendent was to be approved was that the city manager makes a recommendation and the council approves or disapproves,” Danseizen said, adding that Marek did exactly what the council asked him to do in interviewing candidates. After the council did not approve the appointment, Marek said he plans to revisit the item with the council again at a later date in hopes of filling the position. “I firmly believe we need a full-time superintendent here in the city,” Marek said. “When I am (acting as) interim superintendent, I can’t do what I need to be doing for the city manager’s job.” In other business at the Aug. 21 meeting, the council;
  • Reviewed and approved fire contracts for Richmond, Chase and Penora townships;
  • Approved wages for the deputy clerk’s position, which will be filled by Labor Day.