New hire will cost city $100K

FAIRMONT – Fairmont Economic Development Authority heard more information Monday about a plan to release Mike Humpal, city administrator, from his responsibilities as economic development director.

Councilman Wes Clerc, who serves on the FEDA board, said the City Council came to the decision that it was “not fair to Mike to juggle both jobs” during the council’s recent evaluation of Humpal. On July 14, the council voted to separate the jobs, effective Jan. 1.

Humpal told FEDA members that the jobs were blended two years ago when he was economic development director and was chosen to be the new city administrator as well.

Combining the jobs resulted in “over $100,000 in savings” at a time when state aid to the city had been reduced. The money was left in the budget and used to “plug holes.”

Humpal estimated that creating a new economic development director position will cost the city $90,000 to $105,000 per year in wages and benefits.

Humpal will create a job description for the new hire, as he does with all city positions. The city will use an executive search firm to filter applicants prior to their interviewing for the job.

“My thought would be to involve the FEDA board” with the selection process, Humpal said, but he added that he would make the final decision.

Humpal also told the board he would like to continue in the role of community development director, dealing with planning, zoning, housing and fire code. Removing those duties was part of council action on July 14.

“Most of those duties are part of my day-to-day stuff anyway,” he said.

An economic development director would focus on getting a project done, while a community development director would enforce building codes.

As community development director, Humpal could work to solve problems with planning and zoning, while the economic development director would advocate the completion of the project.

“We will have a better economic development effort if that person focuses solely on economic development,” Humpal said.

Clerc said the council has not met since the vote to split city administrator and economic/community development chores, but he assured FEDA members “discussion will take place.”

“We need to stay aggressive as a city,” Clerc said. “We need to get back to a very strong [economic development] push.”

Humpal also updated FEDA on projects in the community:?Sweet Financial has broken ground on its expansion. O’Reilly Auto Parts was issued a building permit.