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Raasch promoted to Finance Director for City of Morris

MORRIS, Minn. - Just two weeks after accepting the resignation of Morris' long-time Finance Director Gene Krosschell, the Morris City Council voted unanimously to promote a current member of the city's finance department staff, Debra Raasch, to the position.

The decision to promote internally will give Raasch two months to train with Krosschell before he retires on July 31 and the opportunity to work with City Manager Blaine Hill to fill her position as the city's general accountant.

"We know that we have one of the best finance directors in the State of Minnesota working for us in Gene," said Hill. "Deb's worked under Gene for 14 years, so he's really had the opportunity to train her the way he does his job. I think that's critical."

After reviewing the Morris City Charter, the city's non-union personnel policy and the League of Minnesota Cities guide on hiring, Hill said he determined that the city manager has the authority to appoint city employees, but employees who will serve as department heads must be ratified by the city council, Hill explained.

City policy also favors filling vacancies by promoting permanent employees when practical, and that the city can do recruitment and internal promotion rather than opening the position to outside applications if the opening is a natural career progression for a group of employees, Hill said.

Ultimately, Hill said he looked at the qualifications needed to fill the position of finance director, and found that Raasch was a well-qualified internal candidate. Raasch has a bachelor of science degree in accounting from Moorhead State University and nearly 14 years of experience in the Morris finance department.

"I can tell personally, the thing that makes city managers lose sleep is worrying about who their finance director is going to be. I can tell you I'm very comfortable with this recommendation," said Hill.

"I think we're very lucky to have such an individual in-house," said council member Jeff Miller during discussion on the resolution. "She has big shoes to fill, but I think she'll do us good."

During the discussion, Krosschell joked that Raasch "probably will not do this job like I did - she'll do it right."

Krosschell's last day of work is July 31. Raasch will officially take over the position as of August 1.

City close to accepting direct payments for utility bills

Hill told the council that the Finance Department is preparing to implement a process that will allow residents to directly pay their utility bills from the bank using a third party to process the payments.

Residents will not, however, be able to pay using a credit card because fees are very expensive, said Hill.

"At this time, we're not going to do credit cards. That doesn't mean down the road we can't change our mind and add credit cards, but I think we'll start with this," said Hill.

Other business

• The council approved compensation amounts for local election judges. A chief election judge will be paid $250 for the day of the election, plus $10 per hour for other election-related duties. An election judge will be paid $10 per hour for all election-related duties.

Local election judges are trained by the county auditor/treasurer, and are responsible for maintaining the integrity of elections, starting with the state primary election on August 14, 2012.

Hill noted that it is getting "harder and harder to find people" who are able to serve as election judges. Anyone interested should call the Morris City Hall at (320) 589-3141 and speak with Hill or Sandy Anderson.

• The council approved a request from the Morris Aerie of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles for $2,000 from the tourism budget to help pay for fireworks during Prairie Pioneer Days.

• The council authorized the transfer of $150,000 of funds from the Federal Aviation Administration to the City of Jackson, with the agreement that Jackson will give back the funds within five years.

Hill told the council that Jackson is currently completing a federal project and will be able to use the money.

• The council approved a grant agreement to accept $5,980 from the State of Minnesota for three airport projects - installing an emergency shutoff for the fueling system, installing new carpeting for the arrival/departure building and repainting the arrival/departure building. The city's share for the projects is $2,074.