Council weighs options for hiring utility staff members

By Chad Koenen


With two utility workers submitting their resignation in the past month, the Henning City Council approved a motion to immediately start advertising for a fourth utility worker, as well as a utility supervisor.

During its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday night, which was held in the Henning Community Center, the city council approved advertising for a fourth utility worker after Brenden Markuson and Travis Arndt recently resigned. The motion was approved on a 3-1 vote with councilman Wes Johnson voting in dissent and councilmen Scott Hart, Jim Haberer and councilwoman Tammy Fosse voting in favor. 

The city was already advertising for a new utility supervisor, but did not officially advertise for another utility worker. 

Henning Mayor Darren Wiese said his opinion was to hire a supervisor first, before looking at the fourth position. He wanted to wait for a new supervisor to be on the job for a few weeks to find out what they needed, before just hiring a person without knowing what the new person wanted. 

“The first thing we (need to) come to is who is the supervisor and what are they bringing to the table,” he said. “To just hire somebody to hire somebody is kind of like buying a horse trailer when you don’t have a truck.”

Fosse disagreed with Wiese and said a fourth employee is needed sooner than later to keep up with work. 

“I don’t feel like as though the job duties have changed. I don’t feel like we have less to do. I don’t feel like we have less projects coming up,” said Fosse. “One of my serious concerns is the water licensing. If we lost that employee…in order to get your license you have to be licensed you have to practice under somebody at that facility for three years.”

Fosse said things haven’t changed enough to where the city can operate with less than four utility workers. She said she would be potentially OK with holding off to advertise for the position until March 15, but the position would need to be advertised at that time. 

Haberer agreed that the city needs a fourth employee as the workload for the city staff is not being decreased over time. He said the only way he would be OK with not hiring a fourth employee would be if the city were to sell some of its facilities. 

“We are not getting the workload down we are just adding to it all of the time,” said Haberer.

Councilman Scott Hart said he wanted to see a new supervisor be hired first to see what they needed before hiring the fourth employee. He agreed with Haberer that there was more than enough work to keep four employees busy full time. 

“I agree with Jim, we have enough to keep four people busy and then some,” said Hart. “I would like to give that person who is going to be in charge to see what he is going to be in charge of.”

Fosse said the employees have said the gap in time it would take for a new person to come in and have any suggestions would be too long to wait. 

  Fosse then made a motion to immediately advertise for a fourth employee. The motion carried by a 3-1 vote with Johnson voting in dissent and Hart, Haberer and Fosse voting in favor of the motion.