Crookston is what it is, and that's not a bad thing.
Crookston residents, the vast majority of which never attend any meetings of the committees comprised of members of the Crookston City Council, should be heartened to know that the people they’ve voted into office in recent years have some pretty respectful and productive discussions at many of those committee meetings, even when they disagree.
The latest, earlier this week at the Ways & Means Committee meeting, involved the annual salary paid to the city Information Technology Director Tom Lindo. He’s been offered another job with, apparently, higher pay, and a council member thought the committee should talk about the possibility of increasing Lindo’s salary as part of an effort to keep him from taking the other job. At the meeting, City Administrator Tony Chladek recommended an increase to $63,000, from the $54,742 Lindo is currently paid. After much discussion, some of it a bit contentious, the boost to $63,000 was rejected by a 5-3 vote. Minutes later, however, a motion by Keith Mykleseth to increase the salary to $58,000 was unanimously approved.
Whether that’s enough to spur Lindo to stay is anyone’s guess. Not surprisingly, he’s not commenting.
This was one of those council discussions where a citizen sitting in the room, or a local newspaper reporter, would likely not conclude that some council members are completely right, and others who disagree are completely off their rocker. Instead, although some people expressed their views in a more articulate fashion than others, everyone around the table, no matter their opinion on the subject, made good points.
On this one, everyone is a little right and maybe a little wrong. Therefore, maybe it makes perfect sense that the committee rallied around a smaller IT Director salary increase, which is better than nothing but possibly not enough to retain Lindo. If he accepts his new job offer, presumably the city will start looking for a new IT Director, or study IT outsourcing options, with an annual budget of $58,000 or so in mind.
The thinking here is that the council seems to spend quite a bit of time talking about salaries paid to particularly important spokes in the City of Crookston’s wheel. But maybe that’s because over the past year or so some especially sturdy spokes have left for greener pastures elsewhere. In some cases, maybe you just thank them for their work here and wish them the best in their future endeavors. But in other instances, maybe you fight like heck to keep them.
As was said at the committee meeting, we are what we are, and what we are is Crookston. We’re not anyone else. We pay as much as we can pay, in a community that lacks a tremendous amount of wealth but has a pretty low cost of living and a decent quality of life.
We keep as many good people as we can within reason, and when good people decide to go, we do our best to replace them with more good people, whom we hope realize, too, that Crookston is what it is.