Council debates offering full-time position to interim police chief Matt Flogstad
The interim period for Hancock Police Chief Matt Flogstad will expire on Dec. 31. The Hancock City Council now has some decisions to make before the end of the year. Some of their options were discussed at the regular meeting on Monday night and a decision will probably be made at a special meeting on Dec. 29.
Council members discussed three possible options. These include extending the interim period, offering Flogstad a full-time position or opening the position up for applications.
Prior to the meeting the personnel committee had met and came up with two proposals to offer to Flogstad as the full-time police chief. These were handed out at the meeting and was the first time the other council members and Flogstad had seen them. Some discussion ensued after reviewing the two options which included an hourly wage plus benefits and an insurance package or salary plus benefits without insurance with an increase of the hourly rate to compensate for the insurance.
After reviewing the proposals, some of the council members wanted more information before offering the position. Their concerns were with the insurance benefit, which they would like to review with new hires. There was also mention of the distance from Flogstad's home to Hancock which is 15.2 miles. A policy in the employee handbook which had just been discussed in regard to a couple members of the fire department, stipulates that employees must live within 15 miles of Hancock.
Councilman Jeff Kisgen added that he felt it was important to have the police chief living in the community. "There is something to having an in-town presence," he explained.
Flogstad said that he currently has a livestock operation near Donnelly but if the mileage was an issue he would consider moving a little closer. However, he would like to remain in the rural area.
Another issue mentioned was that initial conversations involved opening the position up for applications. However, some of the council members felt that this would bring on an avalanche of applications.
The next option was to extend the interim period another 30-60 days. Flogstad was somewhat hesitant about this because he has another job where they are keeping his position open while he works for Hancock.
"I can't keep my other job at bay (by extending this) every 30 days" said Flogstad.
It was decided to wait until a special council meeting on Dec. 29 to make the decision and in the meantime look a little further into the insurance options.
Earlier in the meeting Flogstad had given his report for the prior month and commented on how busy it had been. He told the council members that it was busier than he expected and he has no problem getting in his 30 hours.
One of the cases he commented on involved a tip that came into his office in Hancock that involved an individual living in Morris. He followed protocol by discussing it first with the Morris Police Chief and then obtaining and executing a search warrant at the Morris residence. This resulted in a felony drug arrest. He explained that since the tip first came to him in Hancock, it would be a Hancock Police Department case.
Flogstad also asked councils permission to utilize an independent contractor to do transcription work for the Hancock Police Department. He had a person in mind who also works at the Stevens County Sheriff's Department. Council approved this request temporarily and asked for a contract that they can review including some cost estimates.
In other personnel matters council decided not to change the wording about violations in the employee handbook and took another step toward adopting a drug policy. They also discussed two fire department members who no longer meet the criteria of living within the 15 miles. One of these members is also the gambling manager.
Fire Chief Mark Holleman explained that this would be discussed at the fire department annual meeting in January. At this time a new gambling manager may also be appointed.
Holleman presented a resolution for council approval in regard to the shared county fire services. He explained that as of right now he asked for approval to continue discussion on the shared services and specifically for the departments to share training. He explained that the goal is to provide more efficient and effective fire services through the sharing of people, equipment, training and other key elements of fire service operations, while probably still keeping separate organizations.
The council members approved the resolution and Holleman will keep them informed as to the status of the discussions. The council members also approved the application of Jacob Daly as a fire department member.
* The council members approved spending $1,000 on trees for a snow break to run parallel to 7th street on land owned by Robert DeGier. The tree line will begin on 8th street near the compost pile and continue to Highway 9.
* Only one person attended the Truth in Taxation portion of the meeting wondering why taxes went up while market value went down. City Clerk Andrea Swenson explained that this was caused by the loss of homestead credit, a decision made by past legislation. This same decision caused the market values to drop.