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Hastings’ new city manager starts July 1

Rebecca Pierce, Editor, reports Jerry Czarnecki is the City of Hastings’ city manager, effective July 1.

His appointment, and action authorizing Mayor Dave Tossava and the clerk to sign his 18-month contract, was approved by the council Monday, with one dissenting vote.

Prior to casting her no vote, Brenda McNabb-Stange said, “I don’t think the process was a correct process. We need someone with more experience.”

McNabb-Stange has been outspoken on this point since Czarnecki was first being considered for the post a year ago.

“Jerry is a great candidate, but he lacks the experience,” she said last year.

Czarnecki has no prior experience as a city manager, she reiterated Monday.

McNabb-Stange reviewed the terms of his contract – including an annual salary of $85,000, a $400 monthly automobile allowance, $50,000 in life insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Delta Dental coverage, 20 vacation days and $5,000 additional each year toward retirement – as being exceedingly generous for a candidate without any prior experience.

She said he should have been considered among a field of prospective candidates.

Instead, Czarnecki was the only candidate.

In addition, a study should have been conducted to compare Hastings to cities of similar size to determine what salaries and benefits packages would be reasonable, she pointed out.

Tossava replied that a comparative study was conducted and, at $75,000, Czarnecki will be the lowest-paid city manager among cities of comparable size.

The study may have accounted for cities of similar size, but did it consider an individual’s experience in that assessment, she asked. Tossava did not reply.

Czarnecki started working for the city in February 2017 when he was named community development director. Later, he became the city clerk/treasurer.

He began his employment with Hastings after retiring from a 25-year teaching career.

In other business Monday, the council held two executive sessions.

The first closed session involved litigation in the Hastings Dog Park Companions v. City of Hastings case. The council learned that the state appellate court has issued an order in that case denying plaintiffs' leave to appeal. The council took no action.

A second closed session involved collective bargaining agreements with the city's department of public service and police union employees for three years, from June 30 to July 1, 2022. The tentative agreement calls for a 3 percent increase each year, Czarnecki said.

“The economic impact of the increase is a net zero for the city,” he said. “We have reduced the wages and benefits in the administration due to new hires, and that has allowed us to absorb the increase in wages. Moving forward, if there is a downturn in the economy, we would have to look at cutting expenses to absorb these increases.”

Other changes in the contracts, Czarnecki said, dealt with language and moving the time of the year that employees are paid for uniform allowances and unused time off.

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