City of Dickinson discusses new community development director position

·4 min read

Jun. 8—DICKINSON — With the planning director's resignation, the City of Dickinson is currently reviewing the Planning Department, as a whole, while also moving forward with a new position — community development director.

During Tuesday's regularly scheduled meeting, the Dickinson City Commission heard from Human Resources Coordinator

Shelly Nameniuk

on how they were tasked with developing a new position that combines the community development director with the city engineer position.

Interim City Administrator Dustin Dassinger and Nameniuk have been working on the job description for this new position, which would report to the city administrator and would be responsible for the city's development, building and infrastructure expansion duties and overseeing the city's Engineering, Building and Codes and Planning departments, she said.

"This position provides expert advice, strategic planning and problem solving for complex city matters, including but not limited to capital improvement planning, North Dakota DOT Urban Roads Programming, comprehensive planning, municipal infrastructure construction standards, site planning, trail development, urban forestry planning, GIS or geographic information system, budgeting and forecasting, permitting, environmental regulatory compliance and legislative presentation and media outreach," Nameniuk said.

Commissioner Jason Fridrich questioned if the city would be able to find an ideal candidate who has both an engineering background and planning experience.

"We never know until we try," Nameniuk replied. "In my opinion, and everyone else can speak for themselves, but I don't know they need to be a planner; they just need to oversee the departments and make sure they're working collaboratively for the common goal of that development department."

Mayor Scott Decker agreed, adding that it would be beneficial for the city to put the job offer out there to see what is available. Dassinger chimed in, adding his shared opinion on the importance of filling that position.

"This position is really designed to bring some cohesiveness between the Planning Department, Engineering and Building Official Department moving forward. I think there's room for improvement," Dassinger said.

The commission debated the grade level the position would start at, discussing salary considerations. Nameniuk noted that in Grade 23, the top end would be $161,000 and that if the position were grated a Grade 24 level it would be $177,000.

"I wouldn't be opposed to having this individual under contract like the city administrator," Decker said. "... This is going to take a unique person to fill this."

Fridrich added, "Having experience in all of those fields, I'm just not sure that person exists, but maybe there is somebody out there."

Fridrich recalled in previous times where there was a city engineer that handled the development of the city and there was not a Planning Department in place.

"When you brought in a raw piece of land to develop, you worked with the Engineering Department. When you were buying an existing structure that you wanted to repurpose to something else, you worked with the Building Department. We never had planning until the oil boom," he said. "... It just seemed like... you knew where you went. Right now, the way we do it, it's all over the place. I think the reevaluation that Mr. Dassinger is talking about needs to really be looked at because nobody really knows where to start... when they come in right now."

Fridrich said he's not against this position, but questions if the position requires too much of an individual.

"We don't get the right person, we don't hire them," Decker said. "We're not obligated to hire anybody."

Prior to the commission's discussion on the new engineering position, Dassinger provided an update on the Planning Department, noting that Planning Director Walter Hadley resigned from his role on June 3. At this time, Dassinger said that they are reviewing and evaluating the department; Hadley's duties have been distributed amongst staff during this period.

Commissioner John Odermann, who joined the meeting over video conferencing, shared his thoughts on why the city should go ahead with the position.

"We got to move on this because this is going to be something that is going to be desperately needed especially with the new city administrator and things like that coming on. We really need to focus on development in the city and with Mr. Hadley leaving as the city planner, we can't put that all on the feet of the city administrator," Odermann said. "... Maybe we don't get any applicants that actually meet the requirements of what we're looking for... Maybe we find that diamond in the rough that's sitting out there that is interested in doing engineering work, but also community development work."

Commissioner Suzi Sobolik motioned that the commission approve the job description at a Grade 24 and begin advertising the position. Odermann seconded the motion. In a roll-call vote, the commission unanimously passed the motion.