Ham Lake succession plan in place

Plans are in place to replace Ham Lake City Administrator Doris Nivala when she retires.

Ham Lake City Administrator Doris Nivala. File photo
Ham Lake City Administrator Doris Nivala. File photo

The city council last month approved a succession plan allowing for Nivala to begin a phased retirement beginning in 2013.

Under the plan, Nivala will take advantage of a Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) program that allows employees who have reached age 62 to work a maximum of 1,044 hours a year with the ability to collect a full PERA pension. The program is at the option of the city council.

As part of program, neither the city nor Nivala will be required to make future PERA contributions. Another requirement is that there be a phased one-year retirement agreement that may be renewed annually for up to five years.

Nivala said she has no final retirement date set and will work the 20 hours a week as required by the PERA program.

“I really like my job,” she said. “Who knows, I might be here for five years.”

As part of the phased retirement plan for Nivala, the city clerk job duties will transfer to the current deputy clerk. The title of deputy clerk will be transferred to the administrative assistant, who has started attending the city clerk’s certification program and should be able to take over the city clerk responsibilities when Nivala retires.

Ham Lake Fire Chief Don Krueger is qualified and interested in taking over the city administrator position.

As part of the succession plan, there would be an evaluation after six months and then yearly to coincide with the administrator’s contract renewals.

Nivala will continue to be responsible for the overall performance of all city departments, with department heads continuing to report to her.

Ham Lake first adopted a succession plan in December 2008. The updated plan approved by council late last month reflects changes that have occurred in the city since that time.

Among those is the retirement of the former senior center coordinator in May 2010. That position was not filled with a city employee. Rather the Ham Lake Senior Center Board of Directors has signed a contract with Quality Career Services to provide an employee to manage the Volunteers of America meals and day to day facility operations.

The city’s deputy clerk acts as a liaison between the senior center and the city, preparing the newsletter and giving the council a monthly update on senior center activities.

Another change in how Ham Lake operates happened in February 2011 when the parks supervisor retired. That position was combined with the street supervisor position and was filled with an on-staff employee.

The building department has also seen changes since the succession plan was first adopted. Most notably, the department was reduced from one building official and two building inspectors to one full-time building official. The zoning officer/building clerk and office/building assistant are scheduled to work 36 hours a week.

As the workload increases, additional hours will be added for staffing needs.

Kelly Johnson is at [email protected]