FL City Council hires engineering technician

Mark Peterson accepts position contingent upon action

Jennifer Mevissen
Staff Writer

To tighten this fiscal year’s budget, the Forest Lake City Council authorized the creation of an engineering technician last December.

The savings associated with moving the position in-house will be $90,500, with $51,000 being reflected in the 2012 general fund.

At Monday’s meeting, the council unanimously approved hiring Mark Peterson to fill that role. He accepted the job contingent upon their action. Last month, city staff interviewed eight candidates out of a pool of 50 applicants.

Mayor Chris Johnson said he’s glad it worked out the way it did; Peterson brings a lot of knowledge with him.

“This represents a significant savings,” Johnson said.

Peterson has been employed at Stantec, the city’s engineering consulting firm. He has principally served the needs of Forest Lake particularly as it relates to stormwater management.

In addition to his 35-plus years of experience as an engineering technician, Peterson also has an associates degree in architectural/construction technology and a bachelors degree in communications.

“I am very excited to continue my service to the city of Forest Lake in a more direct position,” he said in an interview on Tuesday morning.

His first day of being officially on the municipal payroll is this Friday, Feb. 17. Due to Peterson’s extensive experience in the civil engineering field, he will be coming onboard at the established grade 9 employee classification. The salary range proposed is $26.83 to $33.53 per hour and would include benefits.

“He’ll start at the top of the range,” said City Finance Director Ellen Paulseth.

Pay Equity Report

The council also approved the 2012 Pay Equity Implementation Report. Local governments must comply with the provisions of the 1984 act, which includes filing a compensation compliance report with the Minnesota Management and Budget Office – formerly Department of Employee Relations – every three years.

Paulseth explained that the city’s compliance report, for payroll data – totaling $4,476,133.70 – in place in 2011, was submitted in January 2012.

She said the pay equity act was designed to ensure that local government jurisdictions do not compensate female job classes consistently below male job classes of comparable work value.

Using the State of Minnesota’s software and the city’s payroll data, Paulseth said the results indicate that Forest Lake is currently in compliance.

However, there was a time when the municipality wasn’t. In May 2006, the consulted with Springsted – a public sector advisor – to perform a study on the pay structure that was in place at that time. Paulseth said the city met with it’s bargaining units to come up with its current grades.

As of today, she said there are more police female police officers than their male counterparts. With this report, the department became a balanced class.

“That helped us out actually,” Paulseth told the council Monday night.