Duluth City Councilors question spending on staff in top administration
Two Duluth city councilors took aim at city administrative staffing Monday night. A resolution approving the appointment of a new director of public administration in Duluth to replace Lisa Potswald drew sharp words from councilors Sharla Gardner...
Two Duluth city councilors took aim at city administrative staffing Monday night.
A resolution approving the appointment of a new director of public administration in Duluth to replace Lisa Potswald drew sharp words from councilors Sharla Gardner and Jim Stauber.
"I think we need to get our priorities in order," Gardner said, suggesting that roughly $100,000 in salary plus benefits could be better spent on public safety, such as the continued operation of the recently closed Park Point fire hall. She said she had no issue with the qualifications of the job candidate but only with the position to be filled.
In an era when budget constraints have forced the city to make painful rank-and-file staffing cuts, Stauber said: "I think we need to slow down adding people at the top."
Duluth's Chief Administrative Officer David Montgomery defended the position, saying the director of public administration oversees city operations that employ about 200 people.
Council President Dan Hartman said he shared many of Gardner's and Stauber's concerns about the city's administrative structure but did not feel it was appropriate to eliminate the position now, especially when the post already had been offered to someone, who was preparing to move to the community.
Councilor Emily Larson agreed it would be unfortunate to withdraw the job offer, especially when the council had already approved the position.
"For me it's a timing issue," she said.
The council was asked Monday to authorize the appointment of Roshanda Smiley as Potswald's replacement.
The resolution passed 6-2, with Gardner and Stauber voting in the minority.