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Top East Grand Forks official resigns

East Grand Forks' top administrator, Scott Huizenga, is taking a new job, leaving the post he's held since summer 2008. He confirmed Monday that he's returning to Kansas City, Mo., as that city's new budget officer. It seems an appropriate move f...

Scott Huizenga

East Grand Forks' top administrator, Scott Huizenga, is taking a new job, leaving the post he's held since summer 2008.

He confirmed Monday that he's returning to Kansas City, Mo., as that city's new budget officer.

It seems an appropriate move for Huizenga. One of his proudest achievements as East Grand Forks city administrator is getting the budget under control in spite of deep cuts in Local Government Aid from the state, he said.

Services were streamlined, labor contracts were changed and money was set aside for building repairs, he said.

"Scott's just done a fantastic job. It's a big loss for the city," said City Council President Craig Buckalew. The challenge now is to find a replacement as competent as Huizenga, he said.

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Huizenga's last day will be the end of May, he said. The fact that it would be about the end of flood season was part of his negotiation with Kansas City, he said.

"It was a very, very difficult decision for me to make," Huizenga said. He likes East Grand Forks' small town feel -- "I love the short commute here" -- he said, but he also misses going to ball games and concerts.

Kansas City also offers more career opportunities for his wife, he said.

Taking risks

When Huizenga was hired by the City Council, he was, in the words of one council member, the "hands-down" favorite among four finalists to replace former City Administrator Bob Brooks, who died in January 2008.

Council member Mike Pokrzywinski said Huizenga impressed the council with his resume and his quick advancement.

Huizenga has worked both in a rural setting as the head of the Rural Development Association of Northeast Kansas and in a big city like Kansas City, where he worked on that city's infrastructure budget.

He said Monday that he was able to streamline city services without too much resistance because it was a matter of making many small changes that could easily be reversed if they don't work out. "One has to not be afraid to take chances," he said. "Sometimes failure is an option."

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One example is the privatization of garbage collection after several city employees retired.

It was a contentious issue on the council, but it worked out, he said. The late Dick Grassel, a council member who opposed the change, later told Huizenga that he was glad it was done, Huizenga said.

"We didn't always agree but I always knew he'd done his homework," Buckalew said. "There was always examples of this city did it this way, this city did it that way and 'you guys have to pick which way you want to go.'"

He said he expects the council, which will meet May 7, will have the search for a replacement under way by the end of the month. It likely will take two to three months, he said.

Huizenga, originally from Glenburn, N.D., just north of Minot, graduated from UND and worked for a time for the Grafton (N.D.) Area Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife have a 6-year-old son.

Call Tran at (701) 780-1248; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1248; or send email to ttran@gfherald.com .

Huizenga's resignation letter: http://egfwestwing.areavoices.com/2013/04/29/resignation-letter/

Related Topics: EAST GRAND FORKS
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