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Dunn County hires new manager from Illinois

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE  —  The Dunn County Board of Supervisors has approved hiring a new county manager from DeKalb County in Illinois to replace retiring Dunn County Manager Eugene Smith.

The county board approved hiring Paul R. Miller at the July 27 meeting.

Miller, who has been a planner for most of his career, started working for DeKalb County in 1996, said Steve Rasmussen, chair of the Dunn County Board.

Miller holds a master’s degree in planning and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy in 2009, he said.

DeKalb County has a somewhat larger population than Dunn County, but the demographics are similar. DeKalb is generally rural but also is home to Northern Illinois University, Rasmussen said.

DeKalb County has an annual budget of $90 million, which compares to Dunn County’s proposed budget for 2017 of $77 million, he said.

Miller, who also is serving as an assistant administrator in Illinois, has been involved with many of the duties associated with being county manager, Rasmussen said.

Larry Bjork, county board supervisor from Menomonie, asked why Miller wanted to leave his job in Illinois and move to Dunn County.

Miller and his wife are at the point where their grown children have “left the nest,” and Miller believes it is a suitable time to move forward with his career, Rasmussen said.

Miller will start his position as county manager September 1.

According to the employment agreement, Miller will begin his employment with a base salary of $122,000. On January 1, 2017, his salary will increase to $123,885, and on July 1, 2017, his salary will increase to $125,000.

All together, 22 candidates applied for the Dunn County manager position by the deadline on June 5.

After an initial screening of the applications, the county’s executive committee selected five candidates to interview.

A reception was held with the county board, the candidates and their spouses, and the following day, the candidates met with eight department heads, who assessed the candidates and sent feedback to the executive committee.

The committee chose two candidates for a second interview.

In terms of management style, temperament and personality, Miller seems like a good fit for Dunn County, Rasmussen said.

One county board member wondered why Miller had gone back to school for a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.

Rasmussen said when Miller had been asked that question, he had said the degree in philosophy was intended to help him achieve more clarity in his thought processes and in his decision making.

Rasmussen noted that he had invited Miller to attend the July 27 Dunn County Board meeting but that Miller was required to be at the DeKalb County Board meeting on the same evening.


Gene Smith began working as the administrative coordinator in Dunn County — which was later changed to a county manager position — in March of 2001.

“It has been my privilege and more importantly my pleasure to have an opportunity serve a wonderful community,” Smith said.

Rasmussen noted that B. Jane Hoyt had been chair of the county board when Smith started his position with Dunn County.

“It’s been a pleasure working with you,” Rasmussen said.