Council picks Vanderholm as new Red Oak City Clerk
The Red Oak City Council has unanimously selected a new city clerk.
At the regular meeting Feb. 6, the council heard a recommendation from the City of Red Oak hiring committee and Mayor Shawnna Silvius to hire Christie Vanderholm as Red Oak City Clerk.
Longtime city clerk Mary Bolton retired from the post at the beginning of the year. Vanderholm has worked for the City of Red Oak for more than eight years.
Red Oak Mayor Shawnna Silvius praised Vanderholm, saying she conducted three interviews for the position, which went very well.
“I’ve watched her blossom the last month and a half. She’s taken a lot of responsibilities and she has handled it very well. I’m very glad she was interested in the position,” Silvius said.
Councilman Brian Bills, who served on the hiring committee, also praised Vanderholm.
“We interviewed some other highly-qualified people, and Vanderholm rose to the top,” commented Bills. “I thank you for your continued diligence.”
Following her selection, the council unanimously approved a resolution setting Vanderholm’s salary at $52,000 annually, and her starting date of Feb. 6.
Vanderholm said she was excited for the new role, but knew it would be a lot of work.
“Until we get someone for my present job as accounts payable/accounts receivable, I’ll be doing both. When we hire my replacement, I have to train that person,” said Vanderholm. “I also want to learn about the budget, because that’s part of my new job as well. I knew going in that this was going to be a lot of work, but I can handle it, and I have a lot of people who give me a lot of support. If I don’t know something, I ask questions until I get the answer.”
The council also discussed a resolution setting City of Red Oak employee wage adjustments. Silvius said that after attending budget meetings, and meeting with Vacanti and other staff, she felt there was an immediate need for adjustments to five positions, with a potential increase for more positions.
“There are other positions that warrant increases, but in speaking with these individuals, they understand that we will address this issue further into the year, once we’ve identified the budget ending balance and potential financial sources,” explained Silvius.
In the summer of 2022, Silvius said she requested several compensation comparison reports for similar size communities with populations between 5,000-9,000. One report was conducted professionally by Hilton Consulting in 2019.
“That report compared 13 cities. Another report was compiled for fiscal year 2021-22, gathering information from 33 cities. Each report compares wages and salaries based on job titles, including levels of certification required, and tenure,” Silvius stated.
The current salary structure for each superintendent/director was set at the same amount: $65,812. Silvius said that amount was regardless of job tasks, responsibilities, risk/safety, outdoor exposure, and extra load due to department staffing shortages. In comparing hourly employee wages, disparities were also identified that warranted rectifying and realigning.
Silvius said to aid in employee retention, she was advocating for five immediate salary increases.
• Chris Day, wastewater superintendent level III, plant operator, and lab technician, $71,097 annually.
• Darren Paul, wastewater chief operator level II, $28.79 per hour.
• Ronald Tilton, cemetery assistant director and water department, $19.73 per hour.
• Bill Deitering, nuisance and animal control officer, $19.24 per hour.
• Susie McDonald, utility billing clerk, $20.65 per hour.
After these were approved, Silvius suggested making further adjustments in the spring.
“When cost of living increases are determined and go into effect, I will request additional employee adjustments be considered, the cost of turnover, experience, and time training are among the reasons this recommendation is justfied,” Silvius said.
Also, Silvius anticipated the hire of another wastewater operator position in the future.
Bills said he was surprised to see how low Red Oak compared to other cities of its size, and agreed that action needed to be taken to address the disparity.
“Everyone realizes the cost of living is going up, and we do have to adress it, even though it may not make some people happy,” Bills said.
The council unanimously approved a resolution increasing the salaries as presented, with the wages to go into effect upon the resolution’s passage.