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Kristi Honeywell, PE, named as City Administrator, Pierre, SD

07/12/2017 7:58 AM | Deleted user

Pierre has a new city administrator, the top full-time municipal employee, less than two weeks after Leon Schochenmaier stepped down after 11 years at the post.

The Pierre City Commission on Tuesday approved the hiring of Kristi Honeywell, South Dakota’s state engineer, effective Aug. 14, after Mayor Steve Harding made the motion to hire her.

Like Schochenmaier, who spent a career as an engineer in state agencies, Honeywell has worked as an engineer for the state for 24 years.

Honeywell grew up in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, on the Mississippi Riveri’s west bank, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and math at Southeast Missouri State.

She earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Missouri in Columbia.

She currently holds two positions for the state: she’s the state engineer and the deputy commissioner for the state Bureau of Administration.

Her state job means, among other things, that she’s in charge of all of the state government’s buildings and grounds, including the campuses and the vehicle fleets across the state.

The fact that the heart of the state’s properties could be said to be in Pierre, in and around the Capitol, means that she has worked closely with city employees here, she said.

Honeywell currently earns $99,119 a year, according to the state’s salary website, so her new job comes with a pretty good pay increase of 28.6 percent, to $127,500 annual salary as city administrator.

That’s about $7,620 less than Schochenmaier was making. But, she will be pretty close to that level when she gets the 5 percent increase - about $6,375 - on Jan. 1, 2018, that is part of her contract approved on Tuesday.

“I’m really looking forward to this and it gives me the opportunity to give back to the community that I have been calling home for almost 25 years.” she told the commission.

She and her husband moved here a quarter century ago and found Pierre “a fantastic community to raise a family,” Honeywell said. Their son is 23 and their daughter is 20.

Honeywell “has worked with a lot of the city’s staff in the past,“ and “has a great skill set that will serve the community well,“ Mayor Harding said. “WIth your engineering experience, construction experience and management experience, you will be a great fit for our community.”

Utilities Director Brad Palmer will continue as interim city administrator until Honeywell begins on August 14.

On Tuesday, she moved around greeting the five commissioners and Palmer, and said that she was planning to begin attending some meetings.

Harding said when he took office July 1 that he wanted to fill Schochenmaier’s position quickly because the annual budgeting process begins this month.

Former Mayor Laurie Gill announced early this year, shortly after Schochenmaier announced he was retiring June 30, that she wanted to start quickly to find a successor who would be ready to start July 1.

Three finalists - all men - were interviewed in May in Pierre and Gill planned to name a new administrator in June.

But the man offered the job said he decided he couldn’t leave his Wyoming community because of family considerations. City leaders decided against hiring either of the other two men who were finalists..

A new hiring process was set up and Honeywell was interviewed last week, one of two people interviewed.

Honeywell starts out with close ties with city work.

The city’s primary street project this summer - redoing about three blocks of Capitol Avenue in front of the Capitol, including replacing a 1927 water main between state buildings - has meant city and state leaders working closely together to minimize the disruption to parking, water and traffic.

The project is going well and should be completed on schedule before school starts next month, Palmer told the commission on Tuesday.

The state Bureau of Administration was a key agency working with the city on the project.

“Because of my current work, I am fortunate to already have a relationship with a number of city employees,” she said in a city news release on Tuesday. “I know they will help me get acclimated quickly and help make the transition as smooth as possible for everybody involved.” 

(From the Capital Journal)

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