Dickinson officials OK former city engineer contract: Soehren to work part-time at $110 per hourFormer Dickinson City Engineer Shawn Soehren will stay with the city for a few more months in a part-time capacity at $110 per hour until a replacement is found, hired and has worked for a few weeks.
By: Katherine Grandstrand, The Dickinson Press
Former Dickinson City Engineer Shawn Soehren will stay with the city for a few more months in a part-time capacity at $110 per hour until a replacement is found, hired and has worked for a few weeks.
The Dickinson City Commission approved Soehren’s contract on Monday at its regular meeting at City Hall, but not without debate.
“I’d like to see an end-date on that,” Commissioner Shirley Dukart said. “I just don’t want this drug out.”
She was worried about the high cost of Soehren’s contract, which would total more than $100,000 per year for part-time work.
Dickinson is advertising the position at $78,340 to $86,740 per year with benefits on the city website.
“We have more than enough engineering work,” Commission President Dennis Johnson said. “So the alternative, if we don’t retain Mr. Soehren, would be to retain one or more engineering firms. I don’t think their rates would be any lower than this.”
He later added that the part-time position would not include benefits.
Commissioner Klayton Oltmanns defended the wage, citing Soehren’s experience.
“It’s the rock and the hard place,” he said. “We’ve got so many projects up in the air right now that we can’t not have someone and we can’t get anyone in in the short amount of time and, like the mayor said, you could spend $150 an hour on somebody that’s not intimately familiar with the projects that we have at hand.”
Commissioners unanimously approved Soehren’s contract, which will expire two weeks into the new city engineer’s tenure.
“I think the work we have to do from an engineering standpoint is daunting. And I don’t think that’s an overstatement, whatsoever,” Commissioner Gene Jackson said. “The cost of bringing Shawn back will be less dollars from our budget than if we were to have a full-time engineer.”
The city has received about 10 applications and/or resumes so far for the open city engineer slot, City Administrator Shawn Kessel said Thursday.
“It only takes one,” he said. “But you want to be able to choose and have a nice mixture of people with good quality experience and education levels.”
From there, they go to a scoring committee, where the applicant pool is trimmed a bit more, Kessel said. The applicants that make it out of the scoring committee are given phone or Skype interviews. The city could bring in as many as three to interview in person before making the final decision.
“We’ll bring those people on site and run them through the gauntlet,” Kessel said with a chuckle.
All of the applicants so far are not from North Dakota, Kessel said, but housing may not be an issue as a slot in temporary city housing will be opening up soon. Dickinson has eight units available for city employees to live in for a few months.
The city engineer and staff are responsible for capital projects and utilities, among other things, according to the job description on the city website. The engineering department works closely with the planning department.
The Dickinson city website lists the deadline for the city engineer position as Nov. 20 at 5 p.m.
“We need them as soon as possible,” Kessel said.