W’bago seeks policing solution

WINNEBAGO – Winnebago City Council faces filling two positions following resignations.

Mike Beletti, named police chief following the retirement of Bob Toland, submitted his resignation, effective Jan. 3, to take a position with the Fairmont Police Department.

Megan Boeck submitted her resignation as deputy city clerk, effective Jan. 10, to accept a similar position with the city of Wells.

The council approved both resignations Tuesday, then discussed options for filling the chief’s position.

A special meeting with Sheriff Mike Gormley has been called for today.

One option, said City Administrator Chris Ziegler, is to contract for police chief services with the Faribault County Sheriff’s Office. Under this scenario, the sheriff would be acting police chief, another full-time officer would be hired to bring the total up to three, and Ziegler would handle personnel and supervision.

“The other option is to contract with the sheriff’s office for all public safety, disbanding our department,” Ziegler said.

The sheriff’s office would be paid for its services.

“Another option will be to continue with the hiring process,” Ziegler said.

A board would be assembled to sift through applications.

“The thing the council stressed a lot was taking our time and making a good decision,” Ziegler said.

The council approved hiring some part-time officers. Ziegler expects to hire three or four.

As for the deputy city clerk’s position, Ziegler said a personnel committee will take over the process. Nine applications have been submitted and the deadline is Friday. Interviews will begin next week. Ziegler expects to hire a new clerk by early February.

Minimum qualifications include a high school diploma and three to five years of secretarial or bookkeeping experience.

Those considering the position should be aware that there is “a lot of accounting; that’s the primary duties, accounting and payroll,” Ziegler said.

In other business, the council approved:

o Increasing on-call pay for the ambulance crew, as requested by Josh More, ambulance captain. The pay will rise from $1.50 per hour to $2.25. It will not cost the city more, since the number of people on-call will decrease from three to two.

o A resolution to support the Renewable Fuel Standard, which sets a standard for ethanol in fuel.

o Moving the next council meeting to Monday, Feb. 10, a day early, because two council members plan to be gone Feb. 11, the regular meeting date.