Council approves part-time, interim city administrator
Keith Cost to receive $51,000 annual salary
BY KEVIN BONESKE
Following more than five months being without a city administrator, the Rhinelander City Council has filled the vacancy, at least on a part-time, interim basis.
Council members unanimously voted at Monday’s meeting to hire retired attorney Keith Kost to the position at an annual salary of $51,000.
The employment agreement between the city and Kost takes effect Tuesday and runs through Dec. 31, or could end sooner by providing Kost at least 60 days’ written notice. Kost would also be able to leave the position before the end of the year if he provided at least 60 days’ written notice, while the council could terminate him at any time, without reason and without cause, on a majority vote.
The contract provisions backed by the council state the annual salary is based on a part-time schedule for Kost of three days per week, typically Monday through Wednesday. However, in order to complete the position’s duties and responsibilities, the contract also notes, “from time to time, significant work may be expected and devoted to said position outside of part-time hours and normal office hours.”
Kost has waived any health, life or dental insurance plan available for city employees, as well as participation in the Wisconsin Retirement Fund as part of the contract.
District 2 council member Mark Pelletier, who chairs the Finance Committee, said hiring Kost on a part-time, interim basis will give the council time to determine whether to have a part-time or full-time city administrator in the future.
“That gives us enough time to find the right person for the job,” Pelletier said. “It takes a lot of strain and stress off department heads and employees that have been doing all the extra work during the time that we have not had an administrator.”
Rhinelander had been without a city administrator since council members voted 6-2 in late August to terminate the contract of the previous administrator, Kristina Aschenbrenner, who had been in the position for not quite a year. As a full-time administrator, Aschenbrenner received an annual salary of $85,000.
The city obtained the recruiting services of the Oshkosh-based Public Administration Associates in a search for a new city administrator. At PAA’s suggestion, the Finance Committee early last month had recommended that the job be posted as a full-time position with an annual salary of between $85,000 to $95,000, plus benefits.
However, the full City Council put that hiring process on hold when Kost appeared at the council’s Jan. 9 meeting to offer his services on a part-time basis.
Kost, who began a law practice in Rhinelander in 1997 after practicing law in Illinois, said he didn’t need to become the city administrator for the money and only sought the position on a part-time basis.
Council members have scheduled a public hearing for their March 13 meeting to consider amending the city code as it relates to the city administrator’s job description.