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Letter to the editor

By Staff | Mar 20, 2008

The following memorandum on the subject of Retirement Plan from Estherville City Administrator Steven D. Woodley, dated March 11, 2008, was given to “the Honorable Mayor and Members of City Council at the March 17 council meeting. Woodley has given the Estherville Daily News permission to run it in its entirety as a Letter to the Editor.

To the EDN:

Most city administrators/managers leave the job due to illness and fatigue–the city council gets sick and tired of them.

Our relationship has probably set some sort of record. The City of Estherville has never done things like everybody else.

For the past 36 years I have had the good fortune of working for great mayors/city councils members and the pleasure of working with the best group of city employees around.

When I was hired as Code Enforcement Officer/Construction Engineer in 1972 by the previous city manager, there were seven administrative positions and a total of 92 employees working for the city.

Today we have three administrative positions and a total of 59 employees–36 percent (33) fewer employees than we had in 1972.

City employees are doing more work today with 36 percent fewer people.

I am quite proud of this fact–not because of the numbers, but because of the efficiency of this city’s operation. There are three main reasons that we are able to operate so efficiently:

a. Good, dedicated employees.

b. Good equipment.

c. The support of our city’s elected officials.

With that acknowledgement, I am announcing my intention to retire in 2009.

To do this job the way I think it should be done takes 50-55 hours a week. I have not been able to do that for some time now and my office looks like it.

This job is kind of like the circus act where the guy spins plates on bamboo sticks and runs around to attend to each stick just before the plate falls.

I wanted to give you this general notice approximately one year in advance (four times the contractual requirement) so you can take the time necessary to determine the future management plan and management structure that you feel best fits the city’s needs going forward. It will take me a year to clean out my office anyway.

As I mentioned earlier, this city operates differently and more efficiently than other cities. The top management position is no exception.

Most cities our size that have a municipal electric utility have a separate utility board that operates the electric and water utilities. Algona, Atlantic, Denison, Spencer, Waverly and Webster City are some examples.

In these cities there is a utility manager and a city manager (administrator). Quite often there is also a public works director to manage construction and maintenance projects.

There is also duplication of support staff such as assistants, secretaries, clerks and offices.

I doubt that our constituents realize how efficient our management structure is in Estherville compared to other cities our size with the municipal utilities we have.

In Estherville the position of city administrator also performs the functions of the utility manager, construction engineer and chief labor negotiator.

I am not aware of any other city administrator/manager that has all these duties. We are unique!

This is why I believe you need several months to study the existing job description(s), management structure and city personnel to determine exactly what you want in your next city administrator when the time comes to recruit one.

Here are some of the challenges that the new management team will have next year:

n Total Dissolved Solids limits for WWT Plant.

n General Fund budget.

n Reconstruction of South Ninth Street.

n Water Plant addition.

n Alternative energy mandates.

n Reconstruction of South Sixth Street.

n Disinfection building at WWT Plant.

n Energy efficiency mandates.

n Countywide law enforcement.

Thank you for bearing with me on this issue. I hope my actual retirement resignation letter will be shorter than this one.

Steven D. Woodley