City administrator, mayor agree Monday’s marathon session was positive, productive

    At a performance evaluation that lasted for around 2 1/2 hours Monday night, members of the Crookston City Council and Mayor Wayne Melbye gave City Administrator Shannon Stassen a list of things he needs to improve on, and everyone’s going to sit down again in 90 days to see how he’s doing. Speaking to the Times, Melbye said the 90-day window should not be characterized as a make-or-break time period for Stassen, and that the next sit-down in around three months won’t be another full performance evaluation, but just an opportunity for council members to see how things have improved since the Jan. 29 session, which was closed to the public and media, pursuant to state statute, because it dealt with a specific employee’s performance.

    “I think everyone walked away feeling really good,” Melbye said. “Anytime you have a meeting for that long and people are shaking hands at the end, that’s what you want to see. …We needed to address some things, and it’s easier for people to speak openly behind closed doors; you can kind of say, ‘What the heck is going on?’ and then hash it all out.”

    Reached by the Times, Stassen agreed with the mayor that it was a positive session. “I think everyone felt pretty good,” he said in an email. “The city administrator answers to the city council and is also accountable to the residents, businesses and interest groups in our community. I will continue to serve Crookston with passion and integrity under the direction of the city council to provide essential services, improve quality of life and support development opportunities.”
    
Delegating work on projects, management style and communication

    Monday’s performance evaluation wasn’t the first time that the council and mayor have suggested that Stassen needs to work more and work better with others who could help him turn ideas that would benefit the community into actual projects. Most notably, Stassen has been directed to delegate work on various key projects to agencies like the Crookston Housing and Economic Development Authority (CHEDA). The thinking is, Melbye explained, that the City and CHEDA working together to make important things happen is a better formula for success than the City doing its thing and CHEDA doing its thing.

    As for management style and communication, the mayor said the fact is that there has been change in the mayor’s seat and a significant amount of turnover on the council since Stassen first started as city administrator, and the way that Stassen managed and communicated with the previous mayor and council is not necessarily preferred by the council members who have been elected since Stassen was hired.

    “The problem was that the council wasn’t included on some things and they felt it left them out in the cold. They felt they didn’t know much about some things, and then they’re asked to jump in and vote on things,” Melbye explained. “The system Shannon was used to, it needed to be changed to go along more with the new council. It’s too bad it took so long, but I think we’re on the right track.”