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Springdale mayor proposes creating job to replace retiring 20-year employee

by Laurinda Joenks | April 20, 2021 at 7:25 a.m.
City of Springdale City Hall Administration building entrance. NWA Democrat-Gazette/FILE PHOTO

SPRINGDALE -- The City Council on April 27 will consider a new position in the Mayor's Office.

Rose Lawrence, who has served more than 20 years as the administrative assistant for several mayors, has announced her retirement in June.

Mayor Doug Sprouse would like to eliminate the position on her retirement and create one for an executive assistant. The position would keep some of the same duties but will face more expectations as the city grows, he said.

The executive assistant salary will be higher on the city's salary grade at $44,523 to $65,480 as opposed to $34,888 to $51,310 for the old position.

But the city should save money for the next several years as Lawrence had reached the top of the salary for her position. The new person would begin at the lower end of the new position's salary scale, said Colby Fulfer, the city's chief of staff.

Fulfer said he compared both the old and the new job expectations with jobs in the private sector, within a 25-mile radius, and found the new salary commiserate.

He was doubtful the city could hire anybody with the experience they need at the former salary scale.

"To get someone with the right skill set, we will have to upgrade the position," Sprouse said.

The job description for the administrative assistant was written in 2012, Sprouse said.

The person in the new position will serve as the manager of the Mayor's Office, will support the mayor in a "wide array of complex, diverse and confidential in a highly sensitive, demanding and rapidly changing environment," the job description reads.

It further asks for someone with experience in such fields as journalism, public administration, accounting, marketing, business administration and finance.

"They won't have to have specific knowledge in all those areas, but we're hoping for someone with a broad knowledge," Fulfer said.

Duties new to the position will include supervising another position, scheduling for the mayor and chief of staff, planning and special projects.

The position also will include organizing and distributing information packets to City Council members related to the agendas of their next meetings. This could include research and drafting actions for the mayor and council's approval.

Council member Jeff Watson asked to delay the council's decision on the position for two weeks, wanting a chance to review the old and new job descriptions, which members received before Monday's meeting.

Sprouse said he wanted to get someone hired, so the person could work with Lawrence for several weeks. The council agreed.

"Anyone can walk in with this experience, but they can't understand all the things Rose does for the mayor," Fulfer said.

The council created a position of assistant to the mayor in June. Fulfer was named to the position with an annual salary of $75,345.

The council rejected the request in March 2020, citing financial uncertainty in light of the covid-19 pandemic. Sprouse said Fulfer came to him in the fall 2019, saying he wanted to become even more involved in city government.

Fulfer worked in the office as a volunteer from March until June. The mayor announced a change in title to chief of staff last month.

Sprouse said he created the position considering the 2022 retirement of Wyman Morgan, the city's director of administration and finance. Sprouse wanted Fulfer to shadow and learn from the experience and knowledge of a 20-plus year employee.

"This is more of my succession planning," Sprouse said Monday, referring to the new executive assistant position.

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