With City Administrator Irl Tessendorf set to retire, the Boonville City Council will decide in the coming weeks whether to promote Assistant City Administrator Kate Fjell to take his place.
Mayor Ned Beach has been impressed with Fjell since he was involved in hiring her in 2007 as a special projects assistant for the city. Fjell is smart, very good at her job and has excellent attention to detail, Beach said, and he’s seen her as a potential replacement for Tessendorf for years.
Beach believes her qualifications have become apparent to more people in recent years, and she’s been a leading candidate since Tessendorf started preparing to retire, he said. The council will first read the proposal to promote Fjell at its meeting on Monday, and it will discuss and vote on the plan at its next meeting Sept. 3. Beach encouraged anyone with questions or input to call him or their city council representative.
Fjell said she’s excited about the possibility of taking on the new role. Since she was promoted to assistant city administrator in 2010, Tessendorf has brought Fjell in to help with different aspects of managing the city.
While Fjell has worked closely with Tessendorf on all the pieces of managing the city government, she hasn’t spent as much time looking at the bigger picture of how all the individual projects fit together, she said.
The biggest change she expects is working more with departments she hasn’t been as involved with in her current role, like the police and fire departments. She’s worked closely with the public works and parks department, especially on securing outside grants for projects.
“I’ve been involved in all the parts, but it’s because Irl has brought me in on them, not because it was me saying, ‘Oh, it’s time to do this now,’” Fjell said. “So that’ll be the transition.”
If the council approves it, the transition wouldn’t be immediate, Fjell said. She’ll have time to work more with Tessendorf to make sure she’s fully informed when she takes over, she said.
“We’re blessed with a staff that has a lot of longevity, so there will be a lot of people to help out,” she said.
One possible hurdle to promoting Fjell is a city rule requiring the administrator to live within Boonville city limits. Fjell and her family recently moved from the city to property in Cooper County, just outside the city limits.
Fjell still feels like a Boonville resident, she said. She has a Boonville post office address, her children go to Boonville schools and she shops in town, she said. A Montana native, Fjell said she was just looking for some more space, and they were able to find that in the county. Her commitment to Boonville hasn’t changed just because her home is outside the city limits, she said.
Back in May, the council considered removing that requirement, but didn’t after some residents expressed their opposition. The city council will consider making a temporary exception for Fjell instead of permanently lifting the requirement.