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Shaneman’s appointment as assistant city manager tabled

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Assistant city manager candidate Audra Shaneman (front center) attends Tuesday’s city council meeting in New Ulm. Her appointment was tabled on a 2-2 vote with City Council President Charlie Schmitz absent.

NEW ULM — Audra Shaneman’s appointment as New Ulm’s economic development director/assistant city manager was tabled Tuesday after a 2-2 vote by the city council.

Shaneman’s appointment was recommended by the city’s personnel committee. Shaneman served as the New Ulm Area Chamber of Commerce president from 2011 to 2019. In April, she began working for Greater Mankato Growth as the City Center Partnership director.

Councilor David Christian made a motion to table the appointment until the full council could attend the meeting. Councilor Larry Mack seconded the motion. Council President Charlie Schmitz was absent from the meeting.

Both Christian and Mack had received questions from the public regarding Shaneman’s appointment and wanted to delay the appointment.

Councilor Lisa Fischer did not support tabling. Fischer is a member of the personnel committee and approved Shaneman for the position.

“I am not sure what the outcry from the public is?,” Fischer said. She was willing to answer any questions regarding Shaneman’s recommendation.

Mack said a few citizens wanted to know about Shaneman’s background in schooling, city, and economic development experiences, as well as the number of candidates applying for the position.

Fischer said there were initially three candidates interviewed for the position.

She said Shaneman was chosen for her previous connections in the community, which include connections with local businesses. In addition, Shaneman has experienced in supervising people and met the education background.

“When it came down to it, she was our choice,” Fischer said. “If there are people out that feel there is something askew in what we did, I don’t know why they wouldn’t be here too.”

Christian said he was not willing to approve the appointment at this time and said he would vote “no” until his questions are answered.

Christian said people were asking him if Shaneman was the top candidate for the job and how she was chosen and he could not answer those questions.

Fischer repeated that there were three candidates but one of the candidates was eliminated for misleading the committee on their application.

Councilor Les Schultz strongly supported Shaneman’s appointment. Schultz has served as the liaison for the New Ulm Area Chamber of Commerce board and said he enjoyed working with Shaneman and seeing how she handles difficult situations and high profile scenarios.

“You don’t get to please everybody in the Chamber [of Commerce] executive position,” he said, “but, by in large, there are a lot of people who are very happy with Shaneman’s role.”

Schultz said her position will be 75 percent economic development. He believes there was no one better to help bring new businesses into New Ulm than a person who served at the Chamber of Commerce. He believes she could handle the 25 percent of the position, assistant city manager, based on her past management of the Chamber of Commerce office.

The motion to table Shaneman’s appointment was an even tie with Christian and Mack voting for tabling and Fischer and Schultz voting against tabling. With no fifth vote to break the tie, the subject was automatically tabled until the next council meeting.

If the council appoints Shaneman at their next meeting, she will be the second economic development director/assistant city manager the city has appointed in 14 months.

Former economic development director/assistant city manager Chris Dalton was hired in April 2018. In November he became acting city manager with the departure of former city manager Brian Gramentz.

Dalton was formally appointed as permanent city manager April 2019, and the city began the search for a new economic development director/assistant city manager.

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The city authorized the early retirement of two bonds. The first is the December 1, 2022 payment of the General Obligation Permanent Improvement Revolving (Go PIR) Fund Bond.

This bond was originally sold to fund the 2012 utility, street and alley projects. The interest savings will be more than $13,000 for the remaining life of the bond.

The second bond is December 1, 2020, through 2024 payments of the GO PIR Fund Bond. This bond was originally sold to finance the 2014 utility, street and alley projects.

The interest savings on this early retirement is $78,000 for the remaining life of the bonds.

The city has also authorized the issuance and establishing the terms and condition for 2019 GO PIR Fund Bonds in the amount of $4,210,000.

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