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"Council, mayor call for hiring administrator"

"Port Orchard Mayor Jay Weatherill and the City Council, agreeing that administrative duties of certain municipal employees are staggering, have tentatively agreed to find a city administrator to help spread the workload.After a public hearing Dec. 6, the council included $46,300 in salary and benefits for the new position in the proposed city budget for 2000, which is scheduled to be approved next Monday.As recently as Dec. 1, when they met in an informal study session on the budget, council members disagreed on how to solve what some describe as overworked City Hall staff. Councilmen Don Morrison and John Clauson, among others, said the city needs a full-time administrato. But fellow council members Warren Van Zee and Bob Geiger said the city can’t afford the extra salary.In the end, however, the council decided the city’s $17. 9 million budget will reflect the cost of hiring a city administrator by next June.“It’s time to commit to bolstering administrative help,” Morrison said. “We’ve burdened (city engineer Larry Curles) enough over the last three years.”As Port Orchard has grown, Morrison said, Curles has taken on more of an administrative role in addition to his regular duties because the mayor’s part-time role doesn’t adequately address the needs of the city.“Mayor Weatherill is doing a great job at a part-time position,” Morrison said, but he added the city needs an administrator on-site, full-time.Clauson noted city department heads often work weekends to catch up.“I can see the writing on the wall,” Weatherill agreed. “I understand that the city of Port Orchard needs a full-time city administrator. Whether we can do that in next year’s budget” remains to be seen.Weatherill drew comparisons between the department heads and the members of a “good football team.”“The line is strong and the quarterback is good,” he said. “But we need that guy in the backfield who can run the ball.”Van Zee, who is chairman of the council’s Growth Management and Land Use Committee, said Dec. 1 he’d feel more comfortable hiring a full-time administrator once the city annexes more outlying areas. “We need to be bigger businesswise before we start talking about being a big city,” he said.Geiger, chairman of the council’s Finance Committee, said it’s unrealistic to decide to hire a city administrator so close to budget-approval time.“This proposal is just not well thought-out, and it’s based on the hope that more revenue will come out of other areas. This will also be the first year we’ll make a major payment on the mortgage for (the new) City Hall,” Geiger said.Geiger maintained Port Orchard is just “a little city of 7,000” people.Although a salary of about $75,000 had been discussed for an administrator, Clauson and Morrison said considerably less can be spent in 2000 because half a year could pass before the parameters of the proposed new position are developed and someone is hired and trained.“So we’re looking at generating about $54,000,” Morrison said, a number later reduced to $46,300. To come up with the money, Clauson noted the city could reprioritize funding requests. He said, for example, the city doesn’t need to designate $16,000 for health district funding. “The health district already passed its budget today without the city’s donation,” Clauson said. “That money would be newfound.”The council decided on $10,000 for the district, which asked Port Orchard and other cities in Kitsap County for money to make up for lost revenue due to Initiative 695’s passage. As another way to help fund a city administrator’s position, Clauson said projected revenue from sales tax next year could be viewed less conservatively.“Assuming that sales tax trends continue as they’ve had over the last few years,” the city will receive more money than suggested in the preliminary budget, said Clauson, who estimated a $10,000 gain.Clauson also said the city could forgo designating $10,000 more to the $75,000 downtown sidewalk-repair fund and put off a snowplow purchase. No citizens attended the Dec. 6 budget hearing. Next Monday’s council meeting will start at 7:30 p.m."

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