Vacura named interim city administrator pending search
LE MARS — The Le Mars city council began the process of filling the position of city administrator. The position became vacant following the death of Scott Langel, on Aug. 28.
On the Oct. 2 council meeting agenda was an action item pertaining to city administrator/staffing issue.
According to agenda information, “The council wishes to begin the process of filling the vacant city administrator position and/or the reorganization of administrative staffing. The process is anticipated to take a few months to complete. During this time period, the council wishes to appoint Jason Vacura as interim city administrator.”
City council members unanimously approved the appointment of Vacura as interim city administrator effective Oct. 2.
Vacura has served as assistant city administrator since December 2015, following the resignation of Bill Cole. Vacura had previously served as the city’s code enforcement officer. Vacura has been with the city more than 20 years when he was hired as an inspector in the engineering department. He became code enforcement officer in 2006.
Vacura studied civil engineering from Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls, and has a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Kaplan University.
The council then discussed forming a committee and seeking an outside consultant to assist in the process of filling the city administrator vacancy.
Council member Clark Goodchild said he was against the second part of the agenda item.
“I would like the city to take a year to re-evaluate how it runs. We’ve suffered a big loss, there’s no question,” Goodchild said in referring to Langel.
He noted the city had lost another employee, Cole, who resigned his position as assistant city administrator.
“But I really think a year of sitting back and seeing how things run, we have a large list of projects that are going to fill the schedule of our administration and public works people, included but not limited to bringing parks up to date, swimming pool up to date, and streets that need attention,” Goodchild said. “I’m not a big advocate of going full blown with more projects, I’m more interested in taking care of a lot of things that we have in the fire and then after that year, deciding do we look forward looking for someone or filling from within. And maybe filling from within isn’t going to be an option.”
He added while he was not really opposed to it, at this point Goodchild said he did not think it was the best time for it.
Council member John Rexwinkel cited his concerns about projects connected with funding received through SIMPCO and continuing to keep those in mind.
Vacura said he had been going to SIMPCO meetings in Langel’s absence.
“I don’t think we’re missing representation,” Goodchild said. “John’s right, Scott had his eye on a lot of projects that go through SIMPCO, and I praised Scott for that, knowing where to go after those dollars. But I just feel Jason has a handle on it right now. And we have Neal (Adler) out there to promote the town. I just urge patience.”
Council member Rex Knapp compared a candidate search to the same process the hospital is using to search for a new administrator.
“It takes a while to go through these procedures. I think we’re looking at the same amount of time frame. I think we need to start now. We’re stilling going to look at people coming to town. We’re not going to just hire the first person that shows up with blood pressure. We’re going to look for a real good person that is really going to help us,” Knapp said. “I think we need to start the process. We don’t have to go fast on this, we just need to look for another individual to help stabilize the amount of people we have at city hall. We’re down a couple good people and we need to fill those voids.”
Knapp made the motion to authorize forming a committee and seeking an outside consultant to assist in the process of filling the city administrator vacancy.
On a vote, the motion passed 4-1, with Goodchild casting the no vote.
Langel was with the City of Le Mars for 30 years. He started in 1998 as the city engineer and later became city administrator/city engineer.