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Former Building Admin Kim Barbieri now City Admin

HOT SPRINGS – Led by Mayor George Kotti, the Hot Springs City Council opened its regular meeting last Monday, Oct. 2 with a moment of silence to pay respect for the victims and those affected by the deadly shooting which occurred in Las Vegas the previous night, where more than 50 people were killed and nearly 500 were wounded.

After the gesture, council approved a motion to move the Executive Session originally scheduled for at the end of the meeting to closer to the beginning – after a ‘Communications from the Public’ and a Proclamation designating Oct. 2 as World Habitat Day, but before ‘Personnel’ was to be discussed. Based on the agenda, the Executive Session was to be held to discuss a legal matter and contract negotiations. The reasons were later amended to also include personnel as well.

During communication from the public, Christopher Elmquist, with the Hot Springs Post 71 American Legion Riders, awarded Mayor Kotti with a certificate of appreciation for the city’s support and assistance with the annual Fall River Freedom Ride which occurred this past August and benefits area veterans. Elmquist said, thanks to the city’s support, the event was one of the most successful yet and included U.S. Representative Kristi Noem as well as American Legion State Commander Hugh Holmes, who both participated in the ride.

Also during communications from the public, city resident and former councilman Wes Grimes said he noticed on the agenda a plan to approve making current Building Administrator Kim Barbieri the new City Administrator, filling the position made vacant when Nolan Schroeder resigned earlier this spring.

Grimes asked if the position still held the requirement that the person live within city limits. He said that was part of the job description previously, when Harley Lux held the position, prior to Schroeder. Mayor Kotti, who was not mayor during Lux’s time with the city, said that the requirement was not currently part of the position in which Barbieri had applied, and that he wasn’t aware it had been part of the position when Lux was with the city.

Councilman Carolann Schwarzenbach confirmed that Lux was required to live in the city limits when he was administrator. Grimes then asked who took the requirement out and wondered if the previous City Administrator Schroeder took it out, to which the council and mayor appeared to show body language implying that he must have, since it was no longer part of the requirement.

Mayor Kotti then said the council would discuss the matter in Executive Session, and if they had concerns about that requirement, it would be addressed at that time. Shortly thereafter, ‘Personnel’ was added to the list of agenda items to be discussed during Executive Session.

After an hour and a half Executive Session, council reconvened and approved unanimously hiring Barbieri as the city’s new administrator, with a wage of $26.13 per hour. Once it was approved, Barbieri, who was in attendance at the meeting, took her seat at the council table on the Mueller Center Theater Stage, next to City Finance Officer Misty Summers-Walton. The council then also approved six other pay increases for city staff members, most of which were for longevity.

During his Mayor Report at the end of the meeting, Kotti addressed the concerns Grimes had brought up during Communications from the Public and thanked him for doing so. Kotti said the process to hire a new city administrator was a vigorous effort, undertaken not only by himself by a committee of people from the community. He said Barbieri applied, and through the interview process, she quickly rose to the top. (See more about Barbieri on page A5)

He added that both the mayor and council have oversight over all city employees, and that sometimes, the best candidates for a position cannot always be found within the city. If the council wanted to require living within the city limits for one employee, they would need to do it for all employees, he said.

During committee reports, Councilman Martin Meyer, who chairs the Parks, Recreation, Beautification and Cultural Development Committee, said that used playground equipment secured by former Administrator Schroeder from the City of Lead was being readied for installation in School Street Park, which is located along Cold Brook Avenue just north of Evans Plunge. He also said Umiker Park, located along Fall River near Motel 6 in Hot Springs, may be closed temporarily in order to address some safety concerns due to remnants of the former trailer park which had been located there.

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Martin also said the Hot Springs Rotary advised their committee that they had secured a grant for nearly $15,000 to construct a stage in Centennial Park by next spring/summer.

Councilman Bob Nelson, reporting on the Public Safety Committee meeting, said progress is continuing to being made on growing the existing Reserve Officer Program, as well as a Neighborhood Watch Program, in order to help protect residents and their belongings, following a rash of burglaries which had hit the city over the past several months.

Nelson also said the Public Works Committee met and would be resuming discussions about utilizing solar energy within the city, now that a new city administrator had been hired.

Under ‘New Business’, the city approved a Taxi License Application from Monroe Taxi Service, with some additional stipulations that the company provide proof of insurance and some other documentation. According to the application, the business owner is Tony Monroe, with Heather Monroe listed as another driver for the company.

In her Financial Report, Summers-Walton expressed her happiness that Barbieri had been hired as the City Administrator, and also that Ketel Thorstenson, LLP, had been approved to do the city audit once again. She said they were good to work with in the past, and by having them return to do another audit, would make the work more efficient as they had history of working with the city in the past.

Summers-Walton also pointed out that the state’s minimum wage would be going up from $8.65/hour to $8.85/hour at the first of the year, and that departmental budgets would need to be adjusted to reflect those increases where applicable.

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