The Hastings City Council Monday approved letters of understanding between the City of Hastings and City Manager Jeff Mansfield and Clerk/Treasures/Financial Director Jerry Czarnecki that suggests a timeline and an outline on how Mansfield will be replaced by Czarnecki next year.
Mansfield is retiring June 30, 2019 and recommended Czarnecki for the post. The vote was 7-2 with Councilwomen Brenda McNabb-Stange and Therese Maupin-Moore voting no.
“It is not proper just to hand someone the job. Everybody likes Jerry, he’s a great guy, but it’s too early for him,” McNabb-Stange said, echoing an earlier statement. Maupin-Moore said she has heard from constituents who don’t like the move and she would like to see it opened it up for more applicants.
At a previous meeting, the council interviewed Czarnecki and voted to make him the only candidate for the job. A motion by Councilman Bill Redman to appoint a three-person committee to negotiate conditions of employment with letters of agreement, and come back to a closed session and act on the agreement was defeated by a 4-4 tie, with Councilman Don Smith absent.
Members Redman, John Resseguie, Bill Cusack, and Mayor Dave Tossava voted yes; McNabb-Stange, Don Bowers, Al Jarvis and Maupin-Moore voted no. McNabb-Stange said they were rushing the process when there was no reason to, and Czarnecki lacks experience as a city manager, especially in laws and legal matters to do with city affairs.
Maupin-Moore said Smith should be present at a vote that important and a new job description should be in place before they fill the position. Bowers said the opening should be advertised. “I like Jerry, but this is not the proper way to do it,” he said. Jarvis said he voted no because he didn’t like the three person committee idea.
A second motion by Redman to name Czarnecki as the sole candidate for city manager passed 5-3, with Redman, Resseguie, Cusack, Jarvis and Tossava voting yes, Bowers, McNabb-Stange and Maupin-Moore voting no.
When Mansfield first brought up the idea, he said Czarnecki adapted quickly to his duties, assumed leadership positions and has a very positive relationship with the staff, council, regulatory and funding agencies and the community. “Jerry has done a truly outstanding job during his time with the city,” he said.
Czarnecki has been with the city approximately 1 ½ years. Previously, he spent 25 years with Kelloggsville schools as a math teacher and department head. He was community development director in Hastings before taking his current position.
Mansfield said the letters of understanding were chosen instead of a formal contract to provide flexibility if the process turns out differently than their expectations and to assure that everyone has an understanding of how they expect the process to unfold.
The letters, developed by City Attorney Stephanie Fekkes, call for beginning the process to find a clerk/treasurer/financial director immediately, with the goal to fill the position by November.
From November to mid-January 2019, Czarnecki will train the new hire and that person should be formally approved as the clerk/treasurer/financial director on Jan. 14, 2019.
At the same time Czarnecki will be appointed deputy city manager and special projects coordinator while continuing working with the new hire.
Mansfield listed seven special city related projects he and Czarnecki will be working on around the end of this year, and the beginning of next.
Some of the projects are new, some are the result of changes to state requirements and others have fallen behind due to numerous changes in the clerk’s position, Mansfield said.
In January, 2019, Mansfield is to be reappointed as city manager until June 30, 2019, when he will officially retire and Czarnecki will be appointed city manager. The terms of his employment are to be agreed on before July 1, 2019.
Fekkes said the letters are not binding, either side can back out at any time, and nothing is final until the contracts are signed.