Search for a Menahga city administrator continues

The Menahga City Council discussed its options – besides extending the deadline, again, for the administrator/clerk/treasurer position – at their Monday, Nov. 28 meeting.

Menahga City Hall 2022
Shannon Geisen/ Park Rapids Enterprise
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The city of Menahga is still without a full-time city administrator, and qualified applicants aren’t clamoring for the job.

The Menahga City Council discussed its options – besides extending the deadline, again, for the administrator/clerk/treasurer position – at their Monday, Nov. 28 meeting.

Interim City Administrator Laura Ahlf said there are applications, but none have prior experience in government management.

Council member Robyn Keranen wondered if the council should interview the candidates anyway.

“Who is going to teach them?” asked Mayor Liz Olson.


Council member Jody Bjornson said the new hire would have access to League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) resources.

Temporary administrative assistant Jensine Kurtti said LMC typically sends city officials to an attorney, but agreed the LMC handbook is thorough. “All the answers are in there, believe you me, if you want to go and take the time to use it as a resource,” she said.

Council member Durwin Tomperi suggested hiring a consultant, such as a retired administrator, to train a new hire for three to six months. “There’s different avenues to try to get somebody to onboard them,” he said.

Kurtti said consultants charge $55 to $65 per hour. Tomperi added there are also lodging and mileage charges.

“The right person can learn,” Ahlf said.

Olson proposed hiring an administrator search firm.

Tomperi joked that Menahga City Hall is like the song “Hotel California, where you can check in, but can’t check out.

Ahlf said she’d ask Wadena City Hall how they found a new city administrator.


Tomperi urged taking action in January.

Bjornson said the applicants deserve a reply, one way or the other.

City Administrative Secretary Dustyne Hewitt spoke to someone at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, who recommended CareerForce. There is no cost.

Kurtti also recommended posting the pay scale with the position.

The council signaled its intent to extend the deadline, but won’t take action until its Monday, Dec. 5 budget/special meeting.

General fund update

Ahlf explained that year-to-date expenditures exceeded revenues in the general fund by $95,816. However, the city has not yet posted the second half of the levy, she said, which is $170,071. The second portion of Local Government Aid will also arrive at the end of December, Ahlf continued, putting the general fund in a positive balance.

Council member Dan Warmbold was absent.

Firearms discharging within city limits

The council approved a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources request to post signage at their 80-acre parcel, located in the southwest corner of the city. Ahlf said the DNR has fielded calls of firearm use in this area, where discharging a firearm within city limits is prohibited by city law.


Hewitt explained that the DNR does not have jurisdiction. Ahlf noted that DNR conservation officer Jordan Anderson reported the same problem last year to the Menahga Police Department.

Tomperi suggested installing at least three signs. Hewitt will investigate costs.

In other business, the council did as follows:

  • Approved a $15 charge per parcel if the public works department removes snow from a city sidewalk, effective Dec. 1.
  • Reviewed a 10-year water tower service agreement with KLM Engineering inc. of Woodbury for $17,000 total. Both the interior and exterior would be inspected and cleaned, explained Public Utilities Director Ron Yliniemi. Action will be taken at the December city council meeting.
  • Authorized a request for a property line adjustment from Amanda Lustila. The Lustilas own both 212 Main Street E. and 16 Cedar Ave SE. They want to transfer 60 feet from the Main Street property to the Cedar Ave. property. They will file with the Wadena County assessor at their cost.
  • Accepted a donation of four Automated external defibrillators from the Helmsley Charitable Trust.
  • Canceled the council’s Dec. 26 work session.
The Park Rapids senior guard hit a 3-pointer against Hawley to surpass 1,000 career points.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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