Camas prepares to begin search for new city administrator

Council will vote on increase to position's salary schedule

By Heather Acheson, Columbian staff writer

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In preparation for the onset of the search for a new city administrator, Camas officials are proposing a 4 percent increase to the position’s annual pay scale.

On Monday, the City Council will vote on a resolution that would boost the salary to a range that starts at $9,464 and tops out at $11,300. The current scale is $9,088 to $10,852.

City Administrator Lloyd Halverson, who announced in January his plans to retire from full-time work in September after 23 years on the job, said he supports the adjustment.

“I think it is in the city’s best interest to be sure that we are competitive in the pay we offer in this decision,” he said during a recent City Council meeting.

During the process of analyzing the current pay scale, Halverson said research was done using comparatives from about a dozen other Washington jurisdictions.

Cities studied and their respective monthly city administrator/manager salaries included Arlington, $12,506; Longview, $12,453; Battle Ground, $11,603; Lake Forest Park, $11,250; Newcastle, $11,166; Washougal, $11,073; Tumwater, $11,006; Monroe, $10,947; Centralia, $10,833; Mountlake Terrace, $10,715; Sumner, $10,455; and Kelso, $10,000.

Among that group of jurisdictions, the average monthly pay is $11,167.

Halverson said the recommended change to the salary schedule would put Camas in a good position to bring in a top candidate as it will be competing with several of the area’s other jurisdictions also in the process of recruiting for new city leaders.

Ridgefield City Manager Justin Clary stepped down in March to take a position in the private sector, and Kelso City Administrator Denny Richards resigned in February to take a job in Gig Harbor. Both cities are looking to re-fill those spots.

Halverson said other factors not related to monetary compensation will play roles in making the Camas position tantalizing to potential candidates. Some examples include the effectiveness of the current city council, the nature and longevity of the mayor, and the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the city.

In Camas, Halverson said the latter could come in the form of being able to be part of the city’s team as the recently annexed land north of Lacamas Lake is developed.

“That should be a major attraction, in my opinion,” he said.

The new pay rates, if approved, could have an impact on Halverson’s salary — currently set at $10,745 per month.

Higgins said he is proposing that the new pay scale take effect on Aug. 1. If Halverson works as the city administrator beyond that date, he could be paid an additional $448 per month under the new structure.

Higgins said the current goal is to have the city administrator start Sept. 1, but it’s possible the chosen candidate could start earlier or a little later.

“It is clear that we in the city have had a great deal with Lloyd and that he is underpaid for the market,” Higgins said. “However, this resolution will not be about righting that fact but be about making sure we have the correct salary for our recruitment for a replacement.”

The city will not be using a headhunting firm to assist in the search. Applications for the position will be officially accepted from April 16 through May 18. Applications will be reviewed and finalists selected by Higgins, Halverson, Camas Human Resources Director Jennifer Gorsuch and Association of Washington Cities Chief Executive Officer Mike McCarty. Some candidates will then be asked to answer written questionnaires,

The pool will then be further whittled down to a selection of people who will be invited to the city for a series of events from July 9 to 12, which will include city tours, meetings with department heads, a public meet-and-greet and panel interviews. The top two or three candidates will then be interviewed by Higgins, and final selection made by the end of July.

“I believe with this community, this organization, this mayor and this staff, [the city] will have very fine applicants,” Halverson said. “We should get someone who is very good.”

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