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City leaders met Monday afternoon and Friday afternoon last week, eventually passing a COVID-19-related resolution declaring Milaca a business-friendly community. Council members stopped far short of taking any action that would have turned a blind eye to non-enforcement of Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home executive order.

Milaca City Council members recently approved moving the city’s administrative assistant to a full-time specialist position with added duties.

The position involves community development, tourism, and economic development responsibilities.

City Manager Tammy Pfaff reported she had met with the city’s personnel committee and discussed an events position involving Mary Mickelson.

Pfaff stated during an Aug. 13 meeting the city could allow Mickelson to do event planning while also incorporating tourism and community development duties into her work.

Council members were in favor of the idea and directed Pfaff to develop a job description for an Aug. 20 vote. Mickelson would become full-time this year.

The person hired for the three-part position would work closely with the city manager to support the city’s strategic plan, which is designed to allow the community to maintain its character, while taking advantage of its heritage, natural assets, talents and location to become an integral part of the region.

The community development specialist, tourism and economic staff person would work with various committee members, community organizations, businesses, volunteers and board members in developing events and activities, deliver programming, business support programs while achieving sustainable growth.

The new position would also assist in the development, planning, and implementation of designated city events, organizational gatherings, and tourism to cultivate positive, long-term relationships, a city job summary stated.

Essential functions include annual planning, community development, event planning, tourism and promotion. The specialist would ensure the city’s event calendar is coordinated, and the city website and Facebook page are updated.

Finally, the specialist would plan events such as RecFest, the city of Milaca’s annual bluegrass festival held each summer, Movies and Music in the Park, and the fly-in at the Milaca Municipal Airport. Other duties would include promoting tourism and updating city information on the Explore Minnesota website.

Economic development tasks would include assisting businesses to sustain growth and providing information about loan and grant programs.

The position job summary concluded with this following statement: “This is not an exhaustive list of all duties and responsibilities.

The city of Milaca reserves the right to amend and change responsibilities to meet business and organizational needs.”

Mayor Pete Pedersen said during the council’s Aug. 20 meeting city leaders were continuing to discuss Mickelson’s new full-time role, and how she would do some of the previously mentioned position duties while adding hours to her scheduled.

“She would get a 2.5% raise and that’s in the preliminary budget right now, the same as all of the other employees,” Pedersen reported.

He asked Pfaff if the position needed to be advertised. Pfaff replied that wasn’t the case, because the city had the ability to hire from within and change positions and staff as needed.

Pedersen’s other question involved the status of the tourism board. “Is that going to dissolve? Aren’t we budgeting this as a tourism director?” Pedersen asked.

Pfaff replied she didn’t know why the board’s status would change once Mickelson started doing community development specialist job duties.

“She’s just going to do Explore Minnesota updates and things like that,” Pfaff said. “Tourism will continue. We can have that discussion with the board.”

Pederson wanted to have that discussion and have the council make a decision now about Mickleson going to full-time in her current position, but adding some of the previous duties that were mentioned and needed instead of the title.

“I think we have to look this over and study this harder, because as far as adding eight hours with this description, at our last meeting, City Treasurer Jackie Ness said city hall is understaffed,” Pederson said. He wanted to look over the concept.

Council Member Cory Pedersen replied, “I think having Mary start with this and make her full time is a really good place to start. My hope is that this could grow into a full-time or separate position for the city for an additional staff member.”

Council Member Dave Dillan concurred with Pedersen. Mayor Pete Pedersen still wanted to revisit the community development specialist, tourism, and economic development position before the city council developed a final budget and levy.

Council members unanimously approved moving Mickleson to full-time. “It will be a work in progress,” Pfaff said, commenting on the internal city staffing change.

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