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LP council clarifies goals, city administrator’s role
June 28, 2019

Ivan Raconteur

LESTER PRAIRIE, MN – Lester Prairie City Council conducted a workshop session June 25 to review the role and responsibilities of City Administrator Mike Skrbich.

Skrbich was hired in April and started work in early May.

Prior to the meeting, Skrbich asked each council member for input on a series of questions to help define the role they wished him to fill, and to establish objectives and priorities for the position. He prepared a written summary of his findings.

Generally, council members were in agreement regarding the direction they want the city to go.

A common goal shared by council members was commercial and residential growth.

The most important issues facing the city that were identified by council members are:

• reducing residential tax rates by increasing housing stock;

• staffing and succession planning;

• updating the city’s plan for streets and infrastructure to address future needs; and

• growth, economic development and planning.

Multiple council members indicated that issues important to them include working to get a grocery store in town, downtown improvement and redevelopment, building community volunteerism and citizen involvement, and working on taxes.

Specific short term goals for the city include:

• addressing blight throughout the community;

• conducting performance reviews and coaching for city staff; and

• improving pool conditions, staffing, and expanding pool hours.

Long term goals include purchasing property for an industrial park, adding housing, and working on a comprehensive long-term park plan.

The consensus of the council was that the most important responsibilities of the city administrator are to:

• Create workable plans and establish supportive budgeting to support outcomes.

• Manage the staff with a cohesive, supportive, harmonious environment to benefit Lester Prairie.

• Handle the day-to-day operational needs of the city and manage it professionally.

• Be an integral part of the EDA, planning and zoning, park board, council, and enhance the actions and decisions that the city makes.

Items council members want Skrbich to work on during the next six to 12 months include:

• Complete trails and campground with signage, benches, tables, etc.

• Work to establish the city’s budget for the coming year.

• Establish a comprehensive plan for the pool and pool house for the next decade.

• Work on a comprehensive/long-term park plan.

Skrbich is Lester Prairie’s first city administrator. The items council members are most hopeful he will be able to do to improve the city are:

• Smooth out day-to-day operations and streamline processes.

• Blend the long-term visions with the goals and actions of the council.

• Do the homework, take the lead, and organize planning and execution.

• Be a good liaison with all the boards and be proactive about developing plans.

• Communicate effectively with all staff and the council.

Skrbich summarized the results of his research, noting there are many items on which the mayor and council agree.

He stated that, in order for him to succeed in this new position, the following elements are critical:

• “I need to be able to manage the day to day operations and have council support to do so. The current environment appears to allow this, and I am pleased to find an effective working environment.

• “If there are budgeted maintenance or operational plans, I need the authority to carry out the mission and present results, bills, and outcomes for final approval.

• “Both of the above activities require good judgement and communication with the council. It is my responsibility to not surprise the council with issues, problems or expenses that come along.

• “I understand that the Administrator is an agent of the city and all the ethical and fiduciary responsibilities that go along with that trusted role.

• “When something breaks, and immediate action is required, I need to be able to handle it professionally.

• “I need to have clear plans for capital budgeting, effective budget planning, and fiscal management.

• “It is imperative that I am able to select the members of my team as we transition. Deciding who we need to hire and directing their activities will generate the best outcomes.

“I hope to have an open-door, approachable relationship with all members of our staff and council. All should feel comfortable sharing ideas and concerns to improve the quality of life in Lester Prairie.”

Skrbich said his comfort level has increased since he started work in the city.

He noted he has met with each city department head individually, and plans to meet will all city employees soon.

He said he will provide a monthly summary of his progress to the council.

Skrbich also noted City Coordinator/Clerk/Treasurer Marilyn Pawelk has been “a good mentor” since he accepted the administrator position.

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