FARGO — The Fargo Park Board is preparing to put out a job opening for executive director, who will help guide big decisions down the road, like what to do with the Anderson Park parcel.

The 16.7-acre parcel was on the market, but following the recommendation of the facilities committee, commissioners unanimously rejected three offers Tuesday, Sept. 10, and will go back to the drawing board. All offers came in well below the appraised value of around $8 million.

Interim Executive Director Dake Leker presented the suggestion of splitting up the parcel for different land uses, and commissioners were open that.

They also approved Leker's 2020 budget recommendations, but that didn't come without disagreements over a mill levy increase dividing the board in a 3-2 vote.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

Commissioner Rusty Papachek did not approve of the increase and said with the combination of a budget increase by 6.4% and another mill, the park district is increasing its budget by 11.3%.

"We can do the things we need to do by not adding another mill," he said.

Papachek was joined by Vicki Dawson in voting against the increase, with Dawson saying the park district naturally gets a fairly healthy increase.

All commissioners were in agreement, however, that the park district should widen its scope in searching for new job candidates, including a new executive director.

Leker was selected to hold the position in the interim after former head of the park district, Joel Vettel, abruptly resigned in July.

Previous hiring practices were to "strictly hire from within," said Stacy Kruger, supervisor of benefits and compensation.

Kruger said the directors and human resources department suggested moving away from that hiring policy to a more open concept.

"We feel that if we are doing our jobs correctly. . . the internal candidate should be the best candidate selected above the external applicants, but in certain cases, our internal candidates might lack the experience, knowledge, or drive to move to the next level," she said. "The park district then is not limited to picking a candidate that is not the best at that time."

This policy change is helping guide the district in its search for a new executive director. Commissioners hope to finalize the job description and get the job posted for internal and external candidates so that they may hire a new executive director by the end of the year.

Park Board President Jerry Rostad said they will look to form a search committee to kick off that process.