Camas takes a pass on city administrator finalists

Halverson will remain full time until 2013; new search planned

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: July 19, 2012, 3:42 PM

 
photoLloyd Halverson

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Camas’ new city administrator will be … its old city administrator — for the time being, at least.

After a lengthy search process that whittled 51 applicants down to two finalists, Camas Mayor Scott Higgins decided to keep longtime City Administrator Lloyd Halverson in his current position until spring 2013, city officials announced Wednesday.

Halverson, 65, had planned to transition into a part-time role once a full-time successor came on board this fall. However, Higgins determined that neither of the finalists — Erik Jensen of Hillsboro, Ore., or Craig Martin of Sweet Home, Ore. — “were the right fit for Camas’ future.” Higgins stressed during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon that both men were qualified and would have done a good job.

“We truly believe Camas is an exceptional city,” Higgins said. “We don’t think it’s an accident. We wanted to make a decision where we felt like (the person) was the right fit. We didn’t get to that point.”

Camas hired Halverson as its first city administrator in May 1989, Over the past 23 years, he has shepherded its into Clark County’s second-most populated city (pop. 19,355) and a hot spot for tech companies and business growth.

Knowing Halverson would retire in early 2013 either way — regardless of whether a replacement was selected this month — Higgins had an unexpected alternative: to keep the city administrator full time. Halverson said he was comfortable with Higgins’ decision.

“I know the job and I will do my best,” Halverson said by phone Wednesday afternoon.

Prior to the city administrator search, the Camas City Council approved a pay scale between $113,000 to $135,000 for the position. As of Aug. 1, Halverson’s salary is expected to increase from $10,852 per month to $11,250 per month — the highest level on Camas’ new pay scale.

Through a written statement released by the city Wednesday afternoon, Higgins said he intended to pause and reflect before starting a new search. The statement noted city officials did not “find any of the finalists as suitable to the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead for the city of Camas.”

Among the city’s upcoming challenges is developing 1,100 acres of land annexed north of Lacamas Lake. Halverson envisions over the next decade that the land will become residential and commercial property, housing schools and being the site for trails, among other things. The new city administrator will have to lead this development push, he said.

Each of the two finalists interviewed with Higgins on July 12 after two panels of local government and business leaders recommended them. Higgins made his decision to retain Halverson on Tuesday, he said.

Jensen came with 14 years experience in Hillsboro’s Administration Department, including the last four as director. Martin has served for 15 years as city manager of Sweet Home, a city with about half the population of Camas.

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517; http://www.facebook.com/raylegend; http://www.twitter.com/col_smallcities; ray.legendre@columbian.com