The new Hastings city administrator has a familiarity with the issues facing the local government.
Members of the Hastings City Council voted 8-0 during their regular meeting Monday to appoint Dave Ptak, current city attorney, to a two-year contract as city administrator.
“After discussing and talking to a lot of people about what we need for a city administrator and what the issues are for our community, I think it became clear we are going through a reorganization that needs a steady hand; we are going through an ERP implementation, which requires knowledge of what’s going on and we need a little bit of history there as well,” Mayor Corey Stutte said introducing his recommendation for Ptak.
Ptak has served as Hastings city attorney since November 2013.
He is a native of Norfolk and, prior to his appointment in Hastings, served as the Norfolk City Attorney from 1981-1993 and worked as a general practice attorney in Norfolk, taking on the business that his father started in the city in the 1930s. Prior to coming to Hastings, Ptak served as the legal counsel and Vice President of Human Resources at Northeast Community College in Norfolk.
Ptak is a 1972 graduate of Hastings College and a former Bronco basketball player.
“I think he will be a very good steward of tax payers’ money as well as a good aide to answer our questions and bring an understanding of the city code as well as state statute to help us move forward as a community,” Stutte said. “I appreciate Dave’s willingness to do that.”
Ptak will take over as city administrator May 11, the day after current city administrator Joe Patterson’s retirement becomes effective.
Patterson announced his May 10 retirement date during the Feb. 11 council meeting.
The council also on Monday unanimously approved the appointment of the city’s next director of finance, Timothy Bohling. Bohling is currently finance director for the city of Ralston, a position he has held since August 2017.
“I think we found our match,” Stutte said, introducing his recommendation for Bohling. “We found someone who has a background in accrual accounting as well as cash-basis accounting. We really wanted to find someone who we thought could mentor the staff as well as change some of the processes we see in the finance department. Roger (Nash) has done a great job in his interim role. We really do appreciate his work in this interim process over the past couple months.”
Prior to becoming Ralston’s finance director, Bohling served as the director of internal audit for the Berkshire Hathaway Media Group from February 2013 to April 2017. He was the director of finance, procurement and information technology for the Omaha Housing Authority from May 2008 to February 2013.
The city of Hastings used Global Recruiters of Elizabeth City, North Carolina to find Bohling. The city has used Global Recruiters to find other city department heads including fire chief Brad Starling and Hastings Utilities Manager Kevin Johnson.
“That’s how we landed him and we’re kind of excited,” Patterson said in an interview Monday morning. “He’s coming from a smaller city, but he’s had bigger organization experience with the Omaha Housing Authority.”
Bohling has a lot of attributes, Patterson said.
“The fact he’s a CPA was a positive,” he said. “The fact he had managed staff in the housing authority was a positive and the fact he has municipal experience at Ralston, Ralston is kind of a community that is in financial distress right now, they’ve had to raise their levy significantly to fund some things with their event center they built. He’s worked through that and helped them come out on the other side of that so to speak.”
Patterson said he believes Bohling will start with the city of Hastings in late April.
Bohling was one of three finalists for the finance director position.
Nash, who has served as interim finance director since January and was assistant finance director prior to that appointment, was a finalist but withdrew his application.
Nash had served as the city’s assistant director of finance since January 2018 — when the City Council appointed Renae Jimenez to be the city’s director of finance.
Jimenez applied for and was hired into the newly created process financial analyst position within Hastings Utilities’ marketing and energy supply department.
Councilman Scott Snell thanked Nash for his work as the interim director.
“You’ve been a trooper, man,” Snell said during the meeting. “I really appreciate what you’ve done, being the glue and kind of keeping things together.”
In other business, the council:
— Unanimously approved awarded a contract to Emerson Process Management Power and Water Solutions for $392,625 for an upgrade of the Distributed Control System for Whelan Energy Center No. 1.
— Was advised the City Clerk’s Office received no objections to the creation of a Street Improvement District for Utecht Circle in Industrial Park North. No action was necessary.
— Unanimously approved the agreement for Hazardous Materials Response Services with the state of Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.
— Unanimously approved a license agreement with Four Star Storage, LLC for the encroachment of an existing metal building along East Park Street from property being purchased from ESU 9.