So far, so not so good.
The City of Crookston's initial effort to find a successor to Information Technology Director Tom Lindo, who's leaving for another position, has turned up a pretty shallow pool of applicants, City Administrator Tony Chladek told Crookston City Council members at a Ways & Means Committee meeting Monday evening.
During the application window, which closed on Jan. 4, Chladek said five people applied and, of those five, two didn't have bachelor's degrees, which is included in the minimum requirements for the position. The remaining three "scored very low" due to "a lot of deficiencies in their skill-sets," Chladek explained, and didn't warrant any interviews.
The city IT director position has been a popular topic over the past year or so, with Lindo's salary being discussed at length on three different occasions. Most recently, earlier this winter, when there was the potential for Lindo to leave for a new job, the council balked at Chladek's recommendation to increase his annual salary from $54,700 to $63,000, but did approve an increase to $58,000. It wasn't enough to keep Lindo, however, so the $58,000 became the high end of the salary range for the person eventually hired to replace him.
The lack of decent candidates spurred Chladek to seek out Polk County Administrator Chuck Whiting, who's currently overseeing an effort to secure IT services for the county, to see if there's any way the two entities could collaborate. "Maybe there's some overlap possible," Chladek said.
Council Member Keith Mykleseth said he'd want the council to discuss that possibility in detail before any decisions are made. Chladek responded that his talks with Whiting were very preliminary, and that there's no proposal to discuss at this point.
The next step will likely involve Chladek, at the recommendation of some council members Monday, reopening the application window and leaving it open until better candidates emerge and the position is filled. Also, it was suggested that not every talented IT person in the field necessarily possesses a bachelor's degree, and that Chladek might want to consider removing that component from the position's minimum requirements.
"A lot of good IT people might have the equivalence or experience in the areas we need, but not the degree," Council Member Tom Jorgens said.
Chladek agreed, but stressed that the five applicants simply came up short. "We tried to look at them as broadly as possible, but it frankly just wasn't there," he said.