Chief of staff appointment creates questions for city in transition

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SHERIDAN — Several changes in staff titles are likely to come down the ranks following the appointment of former Police Chief Rich Adriaens to city chief of staff. While the answer to “What’s next?” isn’t clear, officials have said the city is in a “transition period.”

City Human Resources Director Heather Doke said Friday that Adriaens has fulfilled the duties of chief of staff on a part-time basis for years. She added that the position will now become full time, but Adriaens will retain some police department duties during the transition. Doke also indicated that city officials anticipate making other changes to staffing as necessary.

Adriaens echoed those plans in an interview with The Press on Friday, and added that Capt. Scott Chandler had been promoted to interim chief of police.

A job description provided by city officials says that Adriaens will oversee the department heads, putting his leadership ranking at the city above department heads and under the Sheridan City Council and Mayor John Heath.

Adriaens will also serve as the primary liaison between the mayor and council and all city departments; provide managerial leadership to all departments; and act as the chief operations officer managing the day-to-day affairs of the city.

While the city has chosen to call Adriaens’ new position “chief of staff,” the job duties are very similar to what has been described in the past as a city administrator.

In 2007, the City Council voted to move toward a city administrator, or manager, form of government. At that time, then Mayor Dave Kinskey said that having professional management in place is better than having a mayor run the city. Someone elected mayor may not know anything about running day-to-day operations of a city, he said.

While the council voted at that time to move forward with the change in governmental structure, voters recalled the decision in 2008.

Kinskey mentioned in his state of the city address earlier this year that he believed it was time to once again discuss moving toward hiring an administrator. At that time, Kinskey said he would advocate that the issue be considered on a general ballot. Kinskey stepped down as mayor last week and was sworn in as a state senator on Tuesday.

Adriaens said the move to appoint a chief of staff was made after the changes brought on by the death of Sen. John Schiffer and the naming of Kinskey as the senator’s replacement. The discussion had been ongoing for years, he said.

“This buys the council some time to make decisions without feeling pressure to make them with some immediacy,” Adriaens said.

He added that sometimes the chief of staff position turns into a city administrator, and sometimes it doesn’t. In the memo released to city staff earlier this week announcing Adriaens’ promotion, the position was described as interim. Adriaens and Doke both said it will be up to the mayor and City Council to decide what happens next.

When asked when that decision might be made, Adriaens said it wasn’t clear, but he likes consistency as well so he would hope it would not be delayed.

When asked about the difference between city administrator and chief of staff, Doke replied by saying, “Chief of staff is what the city of Sheridan has used in the past and it is what mayor and council have chosen to use at this point in time.”

No intention has been expressed to move from a strong mayor form of government — in which the mayor is elected by city residents — to a city administrator form of government.

Doke indicated that the salary range for the position is $105,871-$161,513 per year. The city will pay Adriaens $137,427.10 as chief of staff.

By |July 18th, 2014|

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