MADEIRA BEACH — After nine months of failed attempts to hire a top administrator, the city has a new manager.
Wednesday, the City Commission voted unanimously to approve a contract with a Wisconsin county administrator during a special meeting that was recessed several times to work out minor details via telephone.
Shane Crawford will be paid $117,000 a year, the same salary he earns as deputy county administrator in charge of central services for Walworth County.
His salary as city manager in Madeira Beach is substantially more than the $92,250 salary his predecessor, W.D. Higginbotham Jr., was paid.
But because Crawford will also serve a dual role as the city's public works director, a position that was eliminated in the budget, his salary represents a savings of more than $57,000 to the city.
Currently, Crawford is responsible for public works, intergovernmental relations and central purchasing in Walworth County. He directly supervises two people and indirectly supervises 80 additional people. The county has a $155 million budget, 825 employees and a population of about 100,000.
Previously, Crawford was the county's director of public works. From 2000 to 2004, he was county administrator and administrative coordinator for Buffalo County, also in Wisconsin.
Crawford, now in his mid 30s, is also experienced in setting policy. At the age of 19, he was elected to the La Crosse, Wis., City Council, where he served four years.
His contract provides $5,000 in moving expenses, is open-ended and requires only that he give 60 days' notice if he were to resign.
If he were to be fired by the commission, the contract guarantees him 20 weeks of severance pay.
Crawford, who will officially begin his new duties Jan. 16, may be at work a few days in December or early January to get a head start on his new job.
"Jan. 16th isn't coming fast enough. I am ready to rock and roll," Mayor Travis Palladeno said Friday.
The mayor said he hopes Crawford's priority list will include taking a close look at the city's personnel to ensure the right people are in the right jobs.
"Shane's management skills are outstanding and he likes to reward people who pull their share," Palladeno said.
The mayor's biggest priority, however, is upgrading the city's infrastructure and helping the commission decide what to do with its deteriorating public works building and its aging city hall.
"We are all excited about having a new city manager," Palladeno said.
Crawford's hiring turns a new page in the city's management woes since February when Higginbotham asked the then-commission to fire him because he said he couldn't work with the commission expected to be elected in March.
Since that election, the city lost an additional six top administrators, either through resignation, firing or elimination of their positions.
The turmoil in city hall also prompted an opposition group of residents and former city officials in December to call for two commission members to be formally recalled.