City of Portage, WI – City Administrator

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    The City of Portage, known as the gateway to the Northwoods, is the largest municipality in Columbia County with a population of 10,659 and the County seat. Located in the southern portion of central Wisconsin, the city is located in the Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area and adjacent to the Stevens Point Micropolitan Statistical Area; only 30 minutes from the City of Madison and adjacent to the Wisconsin Dells recreation area. As the Madison area continues to grow economically at a monumental pace, Portage and its neighboring communities have been attractive to those who are looking for more affordable with a high quality of life alternative to the City and its suburbs. Portage’s easy access to Interstate 39 and 94 and U.S. Highway 51 adds to its regional attraction The popularity and close proximity of Wisconsin Dells is also an important economic asset to the City of Portage, which also has an impressive commercial and industrial base.

    Incorporated in 1854, the City of Portage lies in a unique geographic location between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers, one flowing north to the St. Lawrence, the other to the Mississippi, the two being separated by a narrow strip of land where early users had to portage to one stream or another. This unique location provided the impetus for the City’s long history of economic success. The city has excellent neighborhoods with a range of housing choices, award winning schools, a bustling historic downtown, an active Business Improvement District that incorporates the downtown central business district, a growing highway business district and a thriving industrial base. Portage maintains its connection to the past with many historic sites and buildings on the National, State and Local Registers of Historic places.

    Portage’s location along the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers provides an abundance of water recreation activities such as fishing, canoeing, kayaking and boating. The city’s park system also provides ample opportunity for its citizens to enjoy a wide variety of recreational amenities. In addition to the recreational facilities within the city, the Swan Lake State Wildlife Area and Pine Island State Wildlife Area are both located less than two miles away. The area also boast some of the best hiking and biking trails in the State of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Dells recreation area provides year round nationally known entertainment and recreational opportunities
    The City Administrator serves as the chief administrative officer to directly supervise departments of Administration, Finance, Parks/Recreation/Forestry, Business Development and Planning, Public Works, and Utilities; and supervise work of the Police and Fire Departments and Library. The City Administrator is appointed by the Mayor and is confirmed by the nine-member Common Council. All elected city officials serve three-year overlapping terms on a non-partisan basis.

    Upcoming initiatives and projects include the negotiation of new labor agreements with the police and fire unions; major upgrades to the 40-year-old wastewater treatment plant; coordination with developers on construction of a new 100+ lot residential subdivision; continued work with architects on planning and designing a replacement park, recreation and public works facility; developing and begin implementation of an infrastructure improvement plan, exploring alternatives to the current contracting of emergency medical services, and effectively managing the City’s seven (7) TIF Districts.

    Portage’s total annual 2023 budget is $24.8 million, including General Fund of $8.7 million, Capital Project Funds of $5.5 million, Debt Service Fund of $1.9 million, Special Revenue Funds of $4.2 million, Sanitary Sewer Utility of $2.1 million, and Water Utility of $2.4 million. The City has seven TIDs with a total budget of $616,506. The unassigned fund balance in the General Fund, as of December 31, 2021, is 31 percent of expenditures or $2.7 million.

    The city has 81.25 full-time positions, 12.3 part-time positions, and approximately 80 seasonal positions.

    The position requires a bachelor’s degree in public or business administration or related field; Master’s degree is preferred. A minimum of five years progressively responsible administrative and leadership experience in a municipal organization is also required. Consideration of candidates with private sector or military experience will be made if the candidate can demonstrate accomplishments that relate to required skills. Residency strongly encouraged and incentivized.

    The successful candidate must demonstrate a verifiable record of past accomplishments in the following areas: budget development and management, human resources (pay, performance and general personnel management), capital improvement planning and execution, intergovernmental relations, and residential/commercial development/redevelopment. The ideal candidate will be a leader of high integrity, possessing a strong work ethic as well as dynamic leadership skills. The next City Administrator must be a team builder and leader in addressing community issues. The ability to utilize good listening skills and a collaborative style in carrying out Common Council policies will be critical to success.

    Starting salary range is $120,000 – $140,000 DOQ plus excellent benefits.

    For more information, visit the City of Portage, WI website.

    Send cover letter, resume, references, and salary history in a single PDF by March 6, 2023, 5:00 p.m. CST to with email subject: City of Portage, WI, Administrator Search. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Chris Swartz, Public Administration Associates, LLC, at (414) 788-7028.

    Confidentiality must be requested by the applicant and cannot be guaranteed for finalists.

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