The Thief River Falls Committee of the Whole heard a proposal to restructure the management of two city departments at its meeting Tuesday, June 21.
Mayor Brian Holmer proposed creating a general manager position to manage the Electric and Water Systems departments. The committee referred the matter to the Labor and Utilities committees for further review.
Currently, the Electric and Water Systems departments are led by Interim Electric Superintendent John Kinsman and Water Systems Superintendent Wayne Johnson, respectively. Kinsman was appointed to his interim role after the retirement of Dale Narlock on Saturday, June 11. Narlock formally announced his retirement months earlier.
In the past, the departments were overseen by a utilities director. However, after the retirement of Utilities Director Arlo Rude in 2011, the city moved to its current structure. Johnson said it was a cost-saving measure.
Some council members seem to believe there will be some efficiencies by switching back. In making the suggestion, Holmer said the Electric and Water Systems departments are generating more revenue than ever before. He indicated that both departments are enterprise funds, meaning that taxpayer money doesn’t fund them. If the city moved forward with the proposal, Holmer said the general manager would handle the budgets and future projects, among other responsibilities. The superintendents would be able to focus on their specific areas of expertise.