Dickinson City Administrator Shawn Kessel gets $6K raiseThe Dickinson City Commission unanimously approved a pay increase for City Administrator Shawn Kessel during Monday’s meeting at Dickinson City Hall.
The Dickinson City Commission unanimously approved a pay increase for City Administrator Shawn Kessel during Monday’s meeting at Dickinson City Hall.
Kessel will receive a $6,000 raise as a result of his annual evaluation.
In a seven-category assessment, the commissioners said Kessel either met or exceeded expectations. Commission President Dennis Johnson made the recommendation, adding Kessel’s job has become more complicated.
“He’s actually, in a sense, a chief officer of a $30 million business,” Johnson said. “If we had to go out into the marketplace and recruit a replacement, we would quickly find that our salary level would have to exceed the level that I am recommending.
Commissioner Klayton Oltmanns also said it is important for the public to know that Kessel does not ask for the increase each year. He also added Kessel’s review is quite different from the ordinary person.
“I was speaking with this with my own employee,” Oltmanns said. “I said, ‘What would it be like to have your evaluation in front of all the peers in your profession, your salary published and then your increase be known by everyone?’ I just want to highlight the scrutiny involved in this.”
Kessel said this was the most uncomfortable meeting he has participated in, but he added he appreciated the comments and that it is a privilege to serve the city.
The commission also approved a $3 million loan agreement to help balance the city’s Development Impact Fund. The loan will come from the Dickinson Future Fund, which has more than $5 million in it.
The Development Impact Fund had a deficit of more than $3 million at the end of November. The “intergovernmental loan,” as Kessel called it, would cover the liability the city has incurred for development. Payments would start Feb. 1, 2013, and end Jan. 1, 2023.
“The nice part about it is we are not issuing a bond, so the city is not being indebted to another entity,” he said.
The loan will be paid back at a 5-percent interest rate over 10 years. Kessel wrote in the agenda memo, “it is anticipated that receipts from development impact fees would be used to repay the loan as they are collected in the manner of special assessments.”
Kessel added that this will benefit the city by collecting interest and keeping it “in-house.”
“We control the interest rate,” he said. “We can set it low, like at 5 percent, but we then also accumulate interest in our Future Fund. It’s a win-win, as far as I’m concerned.”
Johnson said the action needed to be taken to obtain a zero balance or minor deficit for the Development Impact Fund before the end of the year.
“It’s a good deal,” he said. “We are the only city in North Dakota that has a Future Fund.”
Oltmanns said past investments from the Future Fund have not met the 5-percent interest rate return. He added that this investment should help replenish the fund over time.
“Leveraging it into something that does have that potential for the 5-percent return certainly should bode well for us in the long-term of improving the overall return of that fund in general,” he said.
In other business, the commission held a public meeting for a zoning ordinance change concerning campgrounds. The ordinance would require campgrounds within an agricultural zone to obtain a special-use permit if it were to be operated as a “crew camp,” according to the ordinance. The commission will act on the ordinance on the Jan. 3 meeting.
As a result of public input, commissioners removed language at the Dec. 5 meeting that would limit tenants to stay in the campgrounds for more than 14 days. Ted Bratten, the North Park Campground owner in Dickinson, said he wanted to thank the commission for listening to public concerns and acting on them.
Bratten was the only person from the public to comment on the ordinance change. Johnson said a lot of changes are occurring in the community and he wanted to make sure changes were done correctly.
“I’ve heard one time that legislation is like making sausage,” Bratten said. “It’s a messy process, but if you do it right, the product turns out OK. I’m happy with your product.”