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Emmetsburg Seeks City Administrator

August 3, 2017
by Anna Veltri , Emmetsburg News

After over two decades of working as the City Administrator, John Bird has decided to retire. The City of Emmetsburg is currently seeking a City Administrator to fill Bird's position early this fall.

About a year after Bird started as the City Administrator, City Manager and Utility Manager were two separate positions. When the Utility Manager left, Bird was asked to temporarily combine the two jobs; now 23 years later the jobs are still combined. Bird believes that this merger of the two positions was for the betterment of the community. Since this combination of positions, both city entities have built a strong working relationship, and both governmental bodies share equipment and have a strong working affiliation.

An incoming candidate will continue to foster the relationship and communication between the City Council and the Emmetsburg Municipal Utilities Board of Trustees and work to achieve the same goal of enhancing the community of Emmetsburg.

In the upcoming months and years, there will be a great deal of infrastructure development. As part of the position of City Administrator, the candidate will be in charge of overseeing these changes and managing the City's finances in order to stay within a budget.

An expectation of an incoming City Administrator is to treat all individuals the same way. It can be difficult to enforce City Ordinances, especially as they pertain to nuisance abatement, but it is important to follow the codes that have been put forth by the city government and to universally enforce those codes. The City Administrator is also responsible for helping to advise the mayor and city council on ordinances as well as city government.

"We currently have one of the best City Councils that I've ever worked with," commented Bird. This will help to make the transition easier as all of the councilmembers work well together.

John Bird stated that one of the most important ways to approach the job of City Administrator is to recognize that every employee is vital to the city; "they are coworkers, not employees."

The City of Emmetsburg is unique for many reasons- we have an airport, a casino, and a lake. These assets can are an important factor to keep our city thriving- they may also make the position of City Administrator a little more challenging. The Administrator is expected to attend all municipal meetings, which include the Airport Commission. It is also important that he/she gains an understanding of the casino as well as grant writing.

"God has blessed us [Emmetsburg and Palo Alto County] with incredible natural resources. We have a lot going for ourselves and we need to recognize we've been given great things," John Bird said fondly.

The City of Emmetsburg is seeking a qualified candidate for the position of City Administrator. After 23 years in the position, John Bird has decided to retire from city government. The target appointment date for the new administrator is late fall, 2017, with complete assumption of responsibilities in early 2018.

The successful candidate is expected to manage the day-to-day operations of the city government as well as the municipal utility function. He or she should possess experience in business management, budget preparation and management as well as major project financing and oversight.

The City Administrator directly supervises the city clerk, finance director, and all other city and utility office staff, the director of public properties, the foremen of the City's three municipal utilities, police chief, economic development director, golf course superintendent, and the community center director.

On a day-to-day basis, the City Administrator oversees all the workings of the city of Emmetsburg. He/she is expected to make recommendations to the City Council and the Utility Board of Trustees on the hiring of personnel. He/she will oversee and supervise public infrastructure improvements from planning through completion of construction and maintain copies of project drawings, specifications, contracts, etc.

The City Administrator is also in charge of keeping track of city finances. He should keep the City Council and Board of Trustees advised of current or future financial and other conditions important to the city and utilities. He/she will also prepare and submit the required annual budgets and financial report.

A qualified candidate should possess: knowledge of statues related to the powers of Iowa's local governments; knowledge of current technologies; experience and knowledge related to the operations of natural gas, water and wastewater utilities; preparing municipal budgets; experience working with other governmental agencies. The ideal candidate should be able to view other city and utilities employees as coworkers as opposed to subordinates. He/she should be open to criticism from not only the public but also from city employees.

The position will remain open until filled. A review of the applicants will begin immediately.

Salary depends on qualifications with an anticipated minimum salary of $80,000/year.

Letters of applications and resumes should be mailed or delivered to:

John Bird, City Administrator,

2021 Main Street

Emmetsburg, IA 50536

Or emailed to: or

"As the new City Administrator moves into the position, I encourage the community to welcome and help them become acclimated to the community and give them the opportunity to do great things," John Bird commented.



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