New city administrator starts Nov. 14

Kinser

Kinser

Marshalltown’s new city administrator — Jessica Kinser — first day on the job is Nov. 14.

Just in time for the first city council meeting of the month.

Interim city administrator Mark Stevens confirmed Kinser’s start date in a telephone conversation with the Times-Republican.

The start date will alo coincide with the city’s upcoming budget planning and goal-setting.

Kinser is a Council Bluffs native, who most recently served as Clinton’s city administrator.

Her contract with the city of Marshalltown was approved by a vote of 6-1 at the Sept. 26 city council meeting.

Casting the “no” vote was first ward councilor Bob Schubert.

He has said previously over the years his no votes are not against the candidate, but against the concept of employing a city administrator.

Schubert believes funds budgeted for the position could be more effectively used to support department heads.

Salary, benefits and experience

The Marshalltown city administrator salary range posted was $125,000 to $150,000 annually.

Kinser is also eligible to receive certain benefits alloted to other non-union city employees, such as insurance, said Marshalltown Human Resources Director Jill Petermeier.

Kinser succeeds former city administrator Randy Wetmore, who resigned in mid-July to take a similar position in Statesboro, Ga.

He concluded his Marshalltown tenure Aug. 22, after serving six years.

“It is bittersweet leaving Clinton,” said Kinser. “I am excited about moving to Marshalltown and learning more about the community and getting started on some of the projects needing to move forward.”

She will be Marshalltown’s fifth city administrator since 1990 and the first female in that position.

Kinser, the 2015 Iowa City Manager of the Year, is familiar with Central Iowa having attended Iowa State University.

Additionally, her brother Andrew is employed locally by Emerson Process Management/Fisher Controls.

He and family live in State Center.

Kinser was appointed Clinton’s city administrator in June, 2013, having previously served as interim city administrator for six months, according to an Iowa City Management Association profile. She was Clinton’s city’s finance director before being appointed interim city manager, having been hired in October, 2011.

She also was city manager in Griswold, and served as management/financial analyst with Ottawa County, Mich. for slightly more than three years.

She has a BS in Political Science and in English – Rhetorical Studies from ISU (2005) and a Master of Public Administration (2007) also from ISU.

Kinser had a major role with the Clinton County United Way in a volunteer capacity.

Council endorsements

“I would say it is rare for us to have so many agree on something like this (Kinser’s selection)” said second ward councilor Joel Greer. “That is why we wanted to speed up the (hiring) process. I expect good things from this person (Kinser).”

Several city councilors cited her strong experience in economic development and finance as factors in her selection.

Because Clinton had limited staff, Kinser played a major role in economic development.

“Getting economic development tools in place for the city are some of the things I have done,” she said. “The focus we have been working on the last few years has been on housing. Specifically, historic restoration in our downtown … one (project) which is about to finish up.”

The hiring process

Since Wetmore resignation, the city council made hiring a city administrator a major priority.

All work was done by Petermeier, mayor and council.

No consulting firm was hired.

From the beginning Mayor Jim Lowrance said he and council were targeting a mid November start date for the new administrator to begin duties.

Consequently, the city advertised immediately after it formally accepted Wetmore’s resignation.

Lowrance said the council sought an individual not only with the proper academic credentials, but one who was strong in finance, economic development, and who could work effectively with department heads.

Lowrance also said the city wanted a candidate who would be visible in the community as a volunteer.

After soliciting advice from Petermeier, the council advertised the opening in trade journals and other publications.

After reviewing many applications, the council eventually conducted telephone or Skype interviews with five semi-finalists and then narrowed the list to two before deciding on Kinser.

Interim city manager

Meanwhile, working to keep Marshalltown’s city government functioning smoothly between Wetmore and Kinser has been interim city administrator Mark Stevens of Des Moines.

He said he will meet with Kinser on Nov. 14 and brief her on projects.

He will also sit in on the council meeting.

“It is not clear if I will be staying on afterwards in any capacity,” he said.

Stevens was hired by the council in August.

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Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com