Executive directors of Spencer Main Street and the Spencer Chamber of Commerce would become city employees so they could access city benefits under an idea that’s still being discussed and researched.
At a city finance and personnel committee meeting Monday night, representatives from both organizations said the health and retirement benefits available to city employees would be used as an added incentive to help recruit and retain directors. The organizations would fully reimburse the city for all costs incurred by any future arrangement.
“The reason that this conversation came up is we are in a position where we need to recruit a new executive director and we thought this would be a really nice perk in that recruitment process, not just for the chamber, but for economic development as a whole,” said Kevin Brown, whose term as chamber board president recently ended.
Chamber director Bill Campbell announced last week at the chamber’s annual celebration event that he’d be stepping down at the end of 2019.
Spencer Main Street Board President Tom Nelson told the committee that the main street board wants to make sure it retains current executive director Nancy Naeve.
“Retention is definitely a consideration here,” Nelson said. “She’ll be pursued for other positions for sure.”
Spencer City Manager Amanda Mack told the committee that both main street and the chamber had approached the city with interest in exploring the idea.
Mack researched arrangements other communities have with their chambers and similar organizations. She shared with the committee an example from Washington, Iowa, where there’s an agreement very similar to the one being proposed.
“Essentially what it is, is those directors, employees, become employees of the city for purposes of health benefits and retirement benefits,” Mack said. “Then the city is reimbursed by those organizations for that to happen. When that person becomes an employee of the city, the city is then placed on the board of that organization as a voting member.”
The city of Spencer currently is an ex-officio member of the chamber and main street boards.
“I just wanted to start the discussion with you all,” Mack said. “Main street and the chamber have expressed some interest in exploring this further to see if it’s a possibility.”
Brown said the chamber’s current inquiry only relates to the director position. Naeve is the only Spencer Main Street employee.
City attorney Don Hemphill said he’d have to look into several questions he has before any sort of arrangement could move forward.
“Somebody classified as a city employee carries with it many things, like IPERS,” he said at Monday’s meeting.
Hemphill added that there are also collective bargaining issues, salary matrix issues and personnel policy issues that would need to be ironed out.
Mack said it’s important to highlight that the agreement would cost the city nothing.
“The way the agreement is structured is it’s a 100 percent reimbursement by those organizations,” Mack said. “However they handle that on their end, employee contributions (for example), is up to them.”
City councilman and committee chair Rich Prentice said “there probably should be more discussion” about any future arrangement after Hemphill has answers to his questions.
“Then if the chamber and main street understand what their costs are going to be and still want to proceed, then I don’t have a problem with that,” he said.