The City of Minot soon could have 10 new positions to fill.
The Minot City Council's Finance and Improvements Committee voted Tuesday to recommend the council add more employees in areas such as engineering and finance, where help is needed to assist in flood recovery.
The city expects to need the extra staffing for up to two years. The positions are:
project engineer in the engineering department.
project engineer in the public works department
assistant city planner
disaster recovery grant reporting clerk
assistant finance director
Most of the funding would come from the city's $67 million Community Development Block Grant. The city can spend up to 5 percent of the grant for administration and 20 percent for planning. It already plans to use some of that money to hire a consultant to help administer the grant.
Cindy Hemphill, city finance director, said CDBG money only can be spent on staff activities related to flood recovery. If an employee funded by the grant works on non-flood projects as well, that portion of their salary must come from another source.
Asked about the need for a third city attorney after adding a second attorney in February, Hemphill explained that the city's two attorneys are employed full-time on other city businesses. Currently, the city has the Swanson & Warcup firm on retainer for flood-related matters, but Hemphill said the city prefer to have an in-house attorney.
The finance committee also is recommending the council spend more on wages for sanitation workers to try to stem the turnover and recruit more workers.
The city has three vacant positions and faces difficulty finding applicants. Since July 2011, the city has not had a list of prospective employees that included more than two candidates. As a result the city's Civil Service Commission recommended increasing the laborer's salary to $2,387 a month, retroactive to March 11. The change affects nine current employees, most of whom are at entry level and would see a 20 percent increase.
The sanitation department would absorb the additional cost of $26,375 its in 2012 budget.
The finance committee also is recommending that the council contract with a lobbyist during the 2013-2014 legislative session and interim. This would be the second session that the city has hired a lobbyist.
Alderman Tom Seymour asked how having a lobbyist worked out last session. City manager David Waind's response suggested things might have gone better.
"It was our first run at having a lobbyist last time. We got information that we probably wouldn't have otherwise," Waind said. "But quite frankly, we got into a lobbyist too late. We see the need to move rapidly and get someone into this position."
There is the possibility of getting the services of a lobbyist with not only strong legislative expertise but also Minot connections, he said.
"We think that's important. We didn't have that last time," he said.