YACHATS – The Yachats City Council reviewed its process for choosing a new city manager during a work session and regular meeting held last week, with Interim City Manager Katherine Guenther noting 14 applicants were in the current candidate pool.

The council has been working to find a new city manager for the past six months, forgoing hiring a professional firm to manage the task and instead developing its own process for doing so.

During a Sept. 2 meeting, the council discussed its selection process and developed a rough scoring rubric based on the job description listed in the city’s charter. Some of the discussed scoring areas included education, experience, administrative and management, budget and finance, council relation experience and major achievements and innovations.

The council also wanted to incorporate a preference for veteran candidates but was advised by its legal council to navigate that element of the screening process with care.

Of the 14 applicants, five are from Lincoln County or nearby, five live elsewhere in Oregon and four are from outside the state. It was noted during the meeting that current Interim City Manager Katherine Guenther, who also serves as the Yachats city planner, was not among the 14 applicants for the position. 

While the council discussed the topic at length, it still needs to determine what the position’s salary range will be and what official interview questions will be asked so they can be made public ahead of time. The interim city manager has been paid $7,000 per month during the hiring process, and the previous city manager was paid around a $110,000 salary at the time of their departure.

The council began reviewing the 14 applications to narrow down the pool during an executive session held Thursday, Sept. 9. Application reviews and interviews for such a position are usually kept private through executive session until a candidate is hired, as it’s common for applicants to be employed elsewhere while applying.

The council hoped to begin interviews next week to further narrow down the list of candidates to about three finalists.

Other notable items from the Sept. 2 meeting:

• The council asked Guenther whether the city was looking to hire any other staff members at the moment, to which she said she currently is not. She stated it was partially outside the bounds of her role as interim city manager, as she is required to defer to the council on most matters and it would be a strange choice to have her “pick” be hired without any say from whomever is selected as the city’s next manager.

Guenther noted she was unable to negotiate a contract with former contract employee Anita Sites, who previously worked for the city before her contract was terminated by the former interim city manager. 

Sites recently turned down a $46,000 salary offer from the city after pointing out the same position had been advertised for a higher price, upwards of $52,000. Guenther stated that as interim manager, hiring staff seemed outside the scope of her position and those decisions would be better left to whomever the council hires as city manager.

The council seemed to agree that it might be best to leave any future staff hiring decisions for the new city manager, whenever they enter the position.

• The council discussed how it should address code enforcement in the city. Discussion ranged from how ordinances should be enforced and what the duties a new staff member devoted to the position would have, as well as what additional duties could be efficiently incorporated into that position. Ultimately, the council agreed it would be best to wait until a city manager has been hired pursue the idea further and passed a motion supporting the idea.

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