Milton reviews city clerk compensation as Michelle Ebbert interviews in Fort Atkinson

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Andrea Behling
Wednesday, August 20, 2014

MILTON—Milton doesn't have a big turnover of office staff, but the city seems to lose a lot of department directors—many to competing local jobs, Mayor Brett Frazier said.

That was the story when the city lost its administrator to a school district earlier this month, and it might be the case with Milton City Clerk Michelle Ebbert.

Ebbert is one of four finalists interviewing for Fort Atkinson's city clerk and treasurer position, said Matt Trebatoski, Fort Atkinson city manager and clerk.

Ebbert's interview with Fort Atkinson is scheduled for Monday, Trebatoski said.

The Fort Atkinson job description posted July 14 through Aug. 8 was advertised with a starting annual salary of $64,293 to $66,123, Trebatoski said.

Fort Atkinson used a recent compensation study to help set the position's pay, Trebatoski said. A consulting company conducted the study, which reviewed all of the city's positions, Trebatoski said.

The Milton city clerk's annual compensation is $49,000, Frazier said.

The Milton City Council on Tuesday met in closed session for about three and a half hours to discuss three topics:

-- Dan Nelson as a candidate for the vacant finance director position.

-- Alan Hulick for the vacant administrator position.

-- City clerk compensation.

The council announced its decision to enter employment negotiations with Nelson and Hulick and tabled the city clerk compensation item.

Tuesday was the second or third time in the last few months the council has discussed city clerk responsibilities and “opportunities for career growth,” Frazier said.

Frazier said he wanted the council to consider whether the clerk is paid enough for the amount of work being done. He believes other department directors and city hall staff positions should be evaluated the same way.

“The city of Milton never wants to be in a position to replace excellent employees,” Frazier said.

Frazier hopes the city will continue to conduct evaluations of staff members to “make sure we're not losing good people to other communities,” he said.

Time cards indicate city administrative staff is working “significantly more than 40 hours a week,” he said.

While Milton residents benefit from that work, it sometimes leads to employees burning out, Frazier said.

“This year our budget really has to be looking at the people side of our business,” Frazier said.

Ebbert, of Fort Atkinson, has worked for the city of Milton for more than a decade and has been city clerk in Milton since 2012. She served as Milton's deputy clerk and treasurer from 2006 to 2012. Before that, she was an administrative assistant for the city from 2002 to 2006.

The three other finalists Ebbert is up against in Fort Atkinson are Tori Bowen, town of Clayton's treasurer and deputy clerk; Jo Ann Lesser, village of Howards Grove clerk and treasurer; and Elizabeth Milbrath, city of Lake Mills clerk.

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