Baker City councilors on Tuesday discussed the experience they want in a new city manager, the salary range they should offer, and other issues related to the recruitment process.Councilors, meeting in a work session, talked about the search for a manager to replace Fred Warner Jr., who will retire at the end of the year.
Councilor Randy Schiewe was absent.
Robin Nudd, the city’s human resources director, reviewed some of the standards a previous Council used before hiring Warner in June 2016.
The current minimum requirements are a bachelor’s degree in business or public administration, or a combination of education and experience that demonstrates the candidate’s ability to do the job.
Councilor Doni Bruland said she wants the Council to look for candidates with experience in city management.
Nudd said the proposed salary range, of $98,000 to $115,000 annually, is the same as when Warner was hired.
Warner’s salary for the fiscal year that started July 1 is $104,000.
“I think we’re well within reason,” Nudd said of the proposed salary range.
But Bruland said she’s concerned the range is too high, saying it’s about 20% more than the salary for Baker County Commission Chairman Bill Harvey.
Harvey, the only full-time county commissioner, has a salary for the current fiscal year of $82,330.
“That’s a big difference,” Bruland said.
Councilor Jason Spriet said the city manager job requires a certain level of expertise, and “if you don’t pay for it, you don’t get it.”
Mayor Loran Joseph noted that Burns, which is also seeking to hire a city manager, is offering a salary range of $60,000 to $75,000 but has not been able to fill the position for more than a year.
Joseph suggested advertising a range of $85,000 to $115,000 for the Baker City manager job.
Nudd said the city’s highest-paid department head is the police chief at $82,284.
Warner questioned setting the lowest salary for the city manager at $85,000.
“I think the problem with starting at $85,000 is I can guarantee you that 95% of the councils never want to give the city manager a pay raise and it’s never a good time to do it,” Warner said. “In my contract, when I negotiated it, I had 2% in there and that’s probably the only reason I have a pay raise.”
Bruland suggested the city set the base salary on the manager’s qualifications. She doesn’t think the city can afford $110,000 or $115,000 annually.
As for soliciting candidates, councilors discussed advertising the job in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and possibly Northern California. Potential advertisement sites include the League of Oregon Cities (LOC) and the International City Management Association (ICMA) Job Center, which advertises nationally.
Councilor Lynette Perry said she wants the city to make sure that candidates who live in larger cities understand in advance the difference in living in a smaller city.
“It isn’t just them you’re dealing with, it’s their wife and kids and a lot of them come from bigger areas, they think they have the dream of settling in a small town,” Perry said. “They get here and they just can’t cope with life in a slower pace rural area. So we really need to let them know that the culture is different here than it is in the city.”
Nudd said advertisements will begin the second week of August.
Councilors discussed hiring an interim manager if it looks as though they won’t be able to hire someone before the holiday season.
Warner offered to stay on beyond the turn of the year if necessary.
Councilors also plan to appoint three of their members to a selection committee to work with Nudd to review applications and schedule interviews.
Councilors plan to have newly elected councilors meet with candidates following the Nov. 3 election. Six of the seven seats on the Council are up for election.