To view the original post on residency requirements: Residency Requirements set for City Admin

October 13, 2007 at 9:37 am e

As one of the two original finalists who withdrew from my name from consideration for the administrator’s position, I feel I can speak with some authority on this item.

The residency issue was two-fold for me. First was that if I moved again, I was going to buy a home that came as close to my ideal home because I assumed I’d be coming to serve the city for the rest of my professional career. Few, if any, homes within the 3 mile limitation met my personal criteria.

Second was that such a rule is not allowed by the State. You cited the statute yourself and nowhere in the promotional literature or job description did it mention anything about the administrator being a public safety officer, or a mission-critical person in an emergency situation. Typically emergency management is headed up by the police or fire department – not the administrator. Cities are only allowed to do what the state authorizes them to do; so in this case if the evidence isn’t provided that the city meets the set standards, it cannot create it’s own rules on the matter.

There are a number of my fellow city administrators in the region who have mentioned that they are staying clear of Little Falls because of the residency requirement. It isn’t just the rule itself… it is also the assumption that the only way you’ll get a top-shelf, completely dedicated to their job sort of senior executive is if they live in a house near city hall. Another concern that several of my administrator associates have noted relate to the fact that the Council seems to easily disregard the State Statutes when they disagree with them.

The last significant issue is that of the Little Falls charter. It is my understanding that the city’s charter contains the residency language. There are very detailed, specific state statutes which govern how a charter can be ammended. The only way a council can amend a charter without holding a vote of the people is for there to be a unanimous vote in favor of a charter ordinance change – and that is on top of additional process issues like sending the item to the charter commission for review, holding a public hearing, etc. This is all covered in State Statutes 410.12 (specifically subd. 5)

Lastly, I’ve heard from a number of administrators that another negative regarding the Little Falls administrator position is that the city has 9 council members. It’s like a mini-legislature in comparison to the five members that most cities have throughout the state. The time, energy and effort to address the needs and concerns of a board nearly twice the average size makes the position far less attractive than others which pay similarly but allow more time to be spend on other aspects of the job.

There is doubt that Little Falls will eventually find an administrator. And, they’ll probably be a top-notch one. The city and its staff are wonderful, but the added complexity coming from the Council is what is scaring off a lot of qualified people.

Guest Contributor- Mini Mackerel