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City council report: Two recommended for promotion and The Herald is barred from executive session

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Oakridge City Hall Herald photo

By GEORGE CUSTER/Editor/The Herald  — The first order of business was to change the Council’s agenda. Mayor Hollett decided to have the council go into executive session immediately as opposed to the end of the regular session, where it was scheduled. The City’s attorney, Matt Dahlstrom, was present for the meeting, but apparently left after the executive session

Kevin Martin, City Administrator pro tem, announced that a representative from The Herald was there to attend the executive session. The mayor said the press was not allowed to attend. She believed there was a policy that precluded the press from attending.

A First Amendment issue

The mayor’s decision appears to stand in contrast to the Oregon Department of Justice Public Meeting Law. That law allows the press to be present at executive sessions, with few exceptions.

Once the executive session ended, the regular session meeting convened around seven-thirty.

The city’s engineer, Edward Hodges, presented a proposal that the city purchase a new pump and valve for the city’s well number two. Robeart Chrisman supported the proposal and gave a detailed explanation to the council for their education. The proposal was approved by a vote of the council.

An informative RAIN presentation

Aqsa Kahn of RAIN Presented work to date in Oakridge as part of a memorandum of understanding (MOU).  Aqsa is the Rural Lane County Venture Catalyst and Advocacy Communications Coordinator for RAIN or Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network. She also announced an opening for a RAIN position for Oakridge.

The mayor gave a presentation about the upcoming 4th of July fireworks. The committee requested $2,500 from the Rural Tourism Marketing Program (RTMP) fund to support the event.

That committee request, applied for by the mayor, also included a fee waiver of the Greenwaters Park amphitheater and community building, but not the entire park.

Hollett reiterated that there would be plenty of firefighters on scene to protect against any possible wildfires.  The vote to waive the fees and grant the RTMP funds was unanimous. The mayor abstained from the vote.

Mayor Hollett polled the council for a date for the special session on the city’s budget. It was suggested that a work session precede that meeting. The council work session, followed by a special session is scheduled for June 23, and the budget hearing/special session meeting will be June 28.

A question arose about the lead time for noticing the budget session.  The notices can be found in The Eugene Register Guard. Councilor Kinyon also wanted the work session to discuss the public safety fee.

Promotions on the table

Scott Hollett, husband of Mayor Christina Hollett, was recommended for promotion to Fire Chief. Robeart Chrisman, the senior public works employee, has been recommended for promotion to Public Works Supervisor. The promotions, if approved by council vote, would make the two candidates exempt employees, or salaried. The two would no longer be union-represented, hourly workers.

A question of contracts

There was a lengthy discussion about contracts for the two employees. This led to questions regarding the finance director’s lack of a contract. Chief Martin indicated that the new city administrator would write the contracts once hired.

Several members of council, including the mayor, lauded the hard work of staff and congratulated each other on their ability to have smooth-running council meetings.

During public comments, Oakridge’s previous city administrator, Bryan Cutchen, said that “contracts on exempt employees are not required. On the advice from LCOG, we do not present contracts to exempt employees except the CA which is dealt with by the city council. The rest are dealt with a letter of hiring through the employee handbook. Severance is negotiated when they depart.”






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