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Afton council interviewing for city consultants

Afton might be getting some major changes soon since the city council interviewed prospective new consultants at an April 9 council workshop.

The idea to advertise for the consultant positions -- city administrator, city attorney, city engineer and city planner -- was first brought to the council by Mayor Pat Snyder at its 2009 goal setting session as a way to save money. The council directed staff to advertise for the positions at its February meeting.

Council members Randy Nelson and Bill Palmquist did not vote in favor of this proposal because they said they did not want to "lose quality people."

During the April 9 interviews, the council interviewed applicants for both city attorney and city engineer.

During the city attorney interviews, two firms were interviewed for the job, Knaak & Kantrud P.A. and Eckberg, Lammers, Briggs, Wolff & Vierling P.L.L.P.

In addition to asking the applicants to describe themselves and their services, the council also asked some very specific questions, such as what the attorney would do in the case of something being said during discussion that could be later used against them in litigation.

All council members said they felt it is necessary that who they select should not have any connection to Afton.

"We need someone removed from our inner-city issues," council member Randy Nelson said.

Given the fact that Afton is currently involved in multiple lawsuits, some council members expressed concern over changing attorneys in the middle of the proceedings.

Council members said they also wanted to find an attorney who would not "sugar-coat"anything and be aggressive.

"Aggressive is probably an understatement," Nelson said. "We need a bulldog."

The current city attorney, Mitch Converse, was not present for the interviews on April 9, but he will be interviewed at a later date.

The council interviewed three prospective city engineers, including their current engineer, John Perotti from SEH. Two other applicants were from Frostline Engineers LLC and WSB & Associates.

The council informed the applicants that their ideal engineer would be someone who would discuss all of their options with them in an open manner.

In addition, they would like to get the "most bang for our buck."

During Perotti's turn to speak, he asked the council to tell him what he has been doing well and what things they wish he would improve.

At the end of Perotti's speech, he requested that the council hold off on making a decision until June so that he may meet with the personnel committee about these concerns. In return, SEH said they would not charge for May's services.

A fourth applicant, David Gurney P.E., will be interviewed at a later date.

The council said they hoped to make a decision within the next several weeks.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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