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Panel to review applicants

By Seth Schmidt


Mayor Steve Ferrazzano wants a council/community committee to review applicants for the vacant Tracy City Administrator position.  But he wants to delay the process until after the Nov. 8 general election.

The mayor, speaking at the council’s Oct. 24 meeting, said he’d like newly-elected council members to be involved in the initial screening of applicants to determine which candidates should be invited for interviews.

About 16 people have applied for the vacancy, which was created by the Sept. 26 departure of Mike Votca, who accepted a similar position with the City of Belle Plaine.

Other council members present—Kurt Enderson and Tam Schons, as well as Pam Cooreman, participating via Skype from Miami, FLA., Monday agreed with the mayor’s suggestion. Councilman Dale Johnson Jr. was absent.

Council members were also in agreement with the mayor’s suggestion that an unspecified number of community members be involved in the screening process.

In a related matter, the council gave brief consideration to the question of whether additional compensation should be granted to interim city administrator Shane Daniels and interim deputy administrator Madonna Peterson, for the extra responsibilities they have been asked to take on since Votca’s departure.

Ferrazzano said that to him, the issue was not “if” extra pay was in order, but “how much” that extra compensation should be.

The mayor and council members asked that Daniels and Peterson give them an idea of how much extra work and responsibility they had taken on since Votca’s departure. The compensation issue will then again be put on the council’s Nov. 8 agenda.


Equipment training

A portion of the City of Tracy’s new $40,000-plus cable television broadcast equipment was on display for Monday night’s meeting.  The image of Cooreman was visible on a new flat-screen monitor that was much larger than the monitor used previously.  A new camera was mounted behind the council’s U-shaped table.

However, the monitor was the only component of the new broadcast system that was actually in use. Implementation of the new system isn’t expected until mid-December at the earliest.  Three training sessions involving at least four city employees are to be conducted first.  City employees will also need to “build” a new public access cable television channel before the new system can become operational.


Liquor store criticism

During a public comment period, the council heard sharp criticism of the process used to close the municipal bar, and the city’s management of the liquor store.

Dave Anderson said that the council’s 2007 decision to spend $85,000 to create an outdoor patio on the east side of the liquor store, plus the $32,000 that was spent to acquire and demolish a vacant building to make room for the patio, was a poor decision.

“That just doesn’t make good arithmetic,” Anderson said.

Money spent on the patio, Anderson charged, could have been much better used in improving the present liquor store building.

Ferrazzano responded that the decision to add the outdoor patio, was an effort by the city to attract more customers and make the city bar more profitable.

Anderson also stated that, in a review of 68 months of liquor store financial statements, he found that the city liquor store operation had made only about $12 a day, which didn’t constitute much of a business.

 “Either those reports are wrong, or you guys aren’t doing your jobs,” Anderson told the council.

Reducing employee hours six hours a day, Anderson said, would have saved the liquor store about $28,000 a year.

Anderson also criticized the council for voting to close the municipal bar before inviting public comment.

• • •

City council members have said that their decision to close the municipal bar is based on the fact that the on-sale portion of the liquor store has been losing money.  The off-sale portion of the liquor store remains profitable.

Peterson, the city’s finance officer, has reported that through August 31, combined liquor store operations showed a loss of $19,102.  That compares with a $20,939 profit for the first nine months of 2015.

From 2010-2015, the municipal liquor store has shown an overall profit in all but one year, that being in 2011.


More next week

Due to space and time limitations, the remainder of city-council related news from the Oct. 24 meeting will be in next week’s Headlight-Herald.