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Moorhead lays off 4 more workers

Moorhead cut four employees who provided technical support for computer and dispatch systems Tuesday, bringing the city's total number of layoffs in the last month to seven.

Moorhead cut four employees who provided technical support for computer and dispatch systems Tuesday, bringing the city's total number of layoffs in the last month to seven.

Overall, just one position was eliminated from the five-person information technology department, City Manager Bruce Messelt said.

But because the aims of the department are changing, the city needed to hire outside people with different skills than the ones its former employees had, he said.

The cuts are part of the city's plan to deal with a $1.2 million state aid cut it received this summer. In all, the city cut 30 positions and created eight to take on some of those responsibilities.

Employees cut Tuesday included Carolyn Monson, manager of information systems, and a 14-year veteran of the city; Roger Stein, a computer programmer/analyst hired in 1998; Keith Little, a network specialist hired in 1998; and Debbie Thielbar, network specialist hired in 2001, said Human Resources Technician Bev Arey.


Monson's salary was $59,000 a year, Arey said.

The other three employees were paid hourly. Stein earned a wage equaling $41,600 a year, Little was paid $38,000, and Thielbar received $33,500, Arey said.

The only city employee offered a new position was former Assistant Manager of Information Service Troy Barth, who was earning $53,700 a year, Arey said.

Barth accepted an information technology specialist job, with a salary range between $34,852 and $45,392, said Director of Human Resources Jean Thompson.

The city also has offered two other people, who are not city employees, the remaining information technology specialist positions. They have not accepted the positions in writing yet, she said.

A new department manager should be hired by the end of the week, Messelt said. Second-round interviews will take place today.

The employee swaps were made to save money and change the focus of the department, Messelt said.

With Fargo and Moorhead sharing a new joint dispatch center, the city will no longer have to provide support for dispatch. Instead, it will turn its attention to Web site and


e-commerce functions, he said.

"It doesn't mean they (the laid-off employees) aren't good at their skill sets, it's just that we're moving toward new skill sets," Messelt said.

The hiring decisions were made by a six-person panel, including three city employees and three outside information technology directors, Messelt said.

A previous round of layoffs by the city included Director of Special Projects Riaz Aziz, Director of Recreation Jon Buckellew, and Recreation Coordinator JoAnn Sterner, whose position will be cut at the end of the summer.

Aziz earned $75,000 per year, Buckellew's salary was $56,000, and Sterner was paid $36,100, Arey said.

The city also has cut back its summertime seasonal staff, said Chad Martin, Director of Operations. Three full-time and one half-time person were not hired for forestry and parks maintenance this year. In addition, four seasonal sanitation workers will be let go in the fall, instead of at the usual time in December, Martin said.

Next year likely will bring more seasonal cuts: one position in the sanitation department and three in the streets department, Martin said.

Reached at home, Monson said she was not ready to talk about the lay offs. A message left at Stein's home was not returned Tuesday evening.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Joy Anderson at (701) 241-5556

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