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Police chief offered top job

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
October 14, 2010
— Milton Police Chief Jerry Schuetz got the phone call at 11 p.m. Tuesday: He was being offered a job as Milton's new city administrator.

Contract negotiations and city council approval of the hire are pending, but Schuetz said the hardest part is out of the way.


"The most important person, my wife, said it was all a go," Schuetz told the Gazette on Wednesday.


Schuetz said he expects to agree to terms of the contract soon, and officials said the council is expected to make a final hiring decision at a city budget session tonight.


Schuetz, who has been Milton police chief since 2008, has served as interim city administrator/police chief since former Administrator Todd Schmidt left in September to take a job as village administrator in Waunakee.


A start date for Schuetz as full-time city administrator is pending, officials said.


Schuetz's offer came after an earlier contract offer to candidate Jesse Thyes fell apart over a residency requirement.


Thyes is assistant village manager of the village of Brown Deer. Thyes and Schuetz were chosen as finalists from a pool of 29 applicants.


The council had moved to start contract negotiations with Thyes after a straw poll in a closed session Oct. 5 showed council members had reached a consensus, officials said.


Ordinances require a two-thirds vote to offer a contract.


Prior to Oct. 5, the council had been deadlocked 3-3, with some council members favoring Schuetz and some favoring Thyes, officials said.


Thyes said he withdrew from negotiations Tuesday because he couldn't reach an agreement with the city over the timeline by which he'd be required to establish residency in Milton.


Normally, city ordinances require a new city administrator to establish residency in Milton within six months of being hired.


But Thyes said during contract talks the city had offered to allow him 12 months before he had to move to Milton. Thyes said the city later offered to extend that period even further, but he indicated he was unwilling to accept the terms, amid uncertainty over his ability to sell his home.


"I didn't know if there was a good middle ground for both parties. I figured it would probably be best if I stepped away," Thyes said. "I did not want to start off on the wrong foot with (the city) over the item. I really didn't."


In an interview Wednesday, Mayor Tom Chesmore said there's no guarantee the council would have approved any of the proposed amendments to the residency requirement.


The council learned of Thyes's withdrawal Tuesday evening and decided in closed session at a budget workshop Tuesday night to offer a proposed contract to Schuetz, Chesmore said.


The council authorized Schmidt, whom the city had hired to recruit a new city manager, to offer the contract to Schuetz late Tuesday.


Schuetz said after moving to Milton to be closer to family and taking what he considered to be a great police administration job, he was pleasantly surprised and honored to be chosen as city administrator.


Schuetz said he told city officials during the hiring process that he would take any role the city gave him.


"I told them that at the end of the day, I just want what's best for the city," Schuetz said.


The city council has approved a maximum salary of $80,000 for the city administrator. Schuetz said as police chief, he's being paid a salary of $71,500.


David Ostrowski, chairman of the city's police commission, has said the commission is prepared to launch an open recruitment process should Schuetz decide to vacate the police chief's seat.


The city has not discussed possible appointment of an interim police chief, officials said.



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