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Rommel bows out

Rod Rommel

Now that a River Falls supervisor has withdrawn from consideration for the job, Pierce County officials are again evaluating the need for a fulltime administrative coordinator.

Jeff Holst, vice chairman of the County Board and its Finance and Personnel Committee, said last Thursday that supervisors are working with an attorney and considering if the job could be part-time.

"We are moving forward, trying to figure out the needs of the county," said Holst in the wake of Rod Rommel's decision.

Holst said Bill Thiel, a municipal law specialist who has advised the county in the past, is "looking into some legality issues" related to the position.

County Board Chairman Paul Barkla, also of River Falls, has been interim administrative coordinator for over 2 1/2 years. He is paid $1,000 a month for the coordinator duties.

Rommel told a Pierce County Herald reporter he thought he could do the county a service when the Finance and Personnel Committee nominated him to be the county's next administrative coordinator.

"I looked at it as one last challenge," he said. "I thought I could be of service based on my experience."

Rommel was nominated for the administrative coordinator job in November. He withdrew after being alerted to a state law that says no elected board member is eligible for any office or position during his term if the job has been created by the board or if the board has the responsibility to fill the job.

"As a sitting County Board member, I do not believe it would be appropriate at this time," he wrote in a letter to Barkla.

Twice this year the county has advertised the position and interviewed candidates, but it has hired none of the applicants.

Rommel, 61, was elected to the County Board last April. His District 7 includes Wards 6 and 7 in the city of River Falls. He also represented that district on the board from April 2002 to April 2006.

In 1987 Wisconsin began requiring counties to have an executive or administrator or designate an elected or appointed official to serve as administrator.

Then-county clerk Dave Sorenson served as coordinator until Dec. 31, 1996. Sorenson was paid $300 a month to perform nominal coordinator duties.

When he left office, the County Board had a management and staffing study done and hired Mike Leighton as the county's first fulltime administrative coordinator. He left the job late in 1998 after nine months.

The board then hired Mark Schroeder, who had been manager of the Land Management Department. He worked as administrative coordinator for six years, resigning in November 2004.

Curt Kephart was hired and began work Aug. 1, 2005. He resigned in May 2008. At that time his annual salary was $73,500 and he received $250 a month for in-county travel and other expenses.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.