One phase of city reorganization plan to go before council Monday

Retirement in police office spurs change


Clint Riese
News Editor

A pending retirement has shuffled the order of the city of Forest Lake’s staffing reorganization plan.

The proposal brought forth in October by City Administrator Aaron Parrish calls for restructuring nearly half of the city’s workforce other than police officers and firefighters. The City Council voted to approve the general concept of the plan, which involves the elimination of 15 positions and the creation of 15 others. Several of the new positions will include part-time duties with the Fire Department so as to boost response to daytime fire calls.

The council will need to approve each of four phases individually, and the first one will come before it on Monday. Officially named Phase 4, it involves changing three specific positions within the Police Department to general police office support roles.

The move up the timeline is due to the pending retirement of the department’s senior administrative secretary. Parrish said it makes sense to implement the changes now rather than to hire someone for one role, only to then change their duties.

“It just happened to work out. It was originally projected to be further out,” he said. “To the extent that we can do these things – planned retirements – we will certainly do that.”

The opening created by the retirement, which is effective next month, could be targeted by current city employees whose positions are on the chopping block, Councilwoman Susan Young said during Tuesday’s meeting of the Personnel Committee.

“I think it provides a position for if somebody who knows there’s going to be a position elimination wants to stay with the city in a position that they do not have to be a firefighter,” she said. “There’s an opportunity there.”

Meanwhile, part of Phase 1 went into effect this week, as five positions in the Community Development department moved under the supervision of Fire Chief Gary Sigfrinius. The workers will continue with the same duties for now, though the reorganization calls for those positions to be replaced with a fire technician position and four hybrid positions that will combine firefighting with building inspection and custodial work. There is no specific timeline for that switch, Parrish said.

One of those affected positions, building official, is vacant. The city is in the process of accepting applications for that position’s successor, a combined firefighter and building official position. Response to the job posting has been strong, Parrish said.

“I was going into it thinking it would be a development situation on one side of the coin or the other, so we would be developing a currently existing building inspector or official into a firefighter or we would be developing a firefighter into a building official,” he said at the Personnel Committee meeting. “That may well be the case, depending on how recruitment goes and the hiring process goes, but we did receive a number of applications where people were already dually qualified.”