Shady Cove approves administrator’s salary, 4-1

Two awesome student’s were chosen as the final Students of the Month for 2011, Matthew McPheeters from Elk Trail and Kyrah Fossen from Shady Cove Middle School. Student Liaison Garrett Logue was also in attendance and expressed concern over the possible closing of Elk Trail, feeling losing schools due to lack of funds was sorry news. He added that if the schools can stay open he knows his generation will take advantage and he’s confident today’s kids will solve tomorrow’s problems.

With kids like Logue, McPheeters and Fossen as examples – one can hardly doubt Logue’s assertations. McPheeters came to Shady Cove from Kyrgyzstan when he was about four and is fitting right in! He and Fossen both like math, Fossen is taking geometry at EPHS. McPheeters seems a born leader and role model while Fossen is always has a smile for everyone.

During reports Mayor Ron Holthusen discussed a recent RVCOG meeting which centered on sustainable building practices. Holthusen harkened back to a May 20 presentation by former Planning Commissioner Thad Gala wherein Gala suggested the city implement incentives for this type of building. Holthusen noted he feels the time to look into such incentives is now in the new year. During council comment Councilor Gary Hughes added his enthusiasm to this idea.

Next up was Planner Lois DeBenedetti’s FEMA report which brought more good tidings for year’s end. Everyone agreed that progress is finally being made toward citywide (well, riverside wide) compliance. Outreach will continue via letters and anyone with questions on inspections, compliance etc. is encouraged to call. FEMA issues can sure be complex, and a phone call won’t cost you a thing.

Another year end task tackled was the approval of the budget meeting schedule for the new year. The schedule was quickly approved, however it can’t be carried out without some eager volunteers stepping up. There are three open positions on the committee and though current members can re-apply the city is also seeking new applicants. Applications will be taken through January 2. If you want your say in this key component of the city, don’t miss out on this chance to participate.

The ongoing discussion on City Administrator Danise Brakeman’s contract also concluded with some complex math. The PERS issue was simple. Per the attorney,  6.6% will be added to the base salary to cover PERS payments the city will no longer make and compensate for the tax increase from the base salary increase. More complicated was the issue of the increase for performance/Interim Public Works duties. Brakeman will receive $200 per month from Nov. 1, 2011 forward, then another $100 per month from Jan. 1, 2012 forward and then $100 more per month from Mar. 1, 2012 forward. This is a one year contract so all will be re-negotiated in fall 2012. This will be an approximate $4,200 per year base salary increase vs. $4800 per year if increases were not staggered. With the final changes to the draft in place the motion for the new contract passed with  Councilor Hayes  as the lone “no” vote. During the meeting Hayes did lots of calculations on the staggered increases and the additional week of vacation. Following the meeting he explained his “no” stance. He said “the immediate and sudden motion by the mayor, instantly followed with a 2nd by another councilor, with no prior discussion of the motion, reflects that this ‘deal’ was discussed and negotiated by council members in private, before our council meeting. I firmly believe that our citizens and business owners would not approve of a 7% overall yearly salary increase, plus a 3rd week of vacation (in essence, another 1.92%), after only one year service, for our city administrator’s first year at the helm.”

Brakeman was optimistic following the meeting stating, “negotiating compensation is never a comfortable thing. The most important thing is that the city council and the community have trust and confidence in their city administrator. Without that nothing we do will be successful. I think we’re on the right track.”

There was an optimistic end during the meeting too as Jackson County Commissioner Don Skundrick spoke during comments. Skundrick first noted he was very impressed with Student Liaison Logue as an individual and with the liaison concept in general. He will be “Spreading the word.” as he thinks all councils should have this addition. He also advised that he won’t be regularly attending Shady Cove meetings in ’12. Commissioners have divided up the district and the new year will see Jackson County Commissioner Dennis C.W. Smith sitting in.             The Mayor took opportunity to ask Skundrick to discuss the boat ramp and missing safety railing hazards at the county park. The mayor  gave a brief background of recent park discussions and advised initially council had thought to go immediately to the commissioners with the ramp issue, but is first working with the county. Skundrick advised the commissioners are aware of the issues and the city and county are on the right track. Additionally, the county is looking into grants to help get repairs done quickly.

The next council meeting will be Jan. 5, 2012. Make sure to attend if your New Year’s resolution is to become more involved in government and see firsthand what issues will hit the ground running in the new year.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent

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