Woodland considers full-time mayor

Laseke would get $30K a year pay bump until city administrator is hired

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter

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Woodland Mayor Grover Laseke may soon become a full-time city employee.

The Woodland City Council on Monday will consider a resolution that would employ Laseke to work for the city full-time through December 2015, which is the end of his term, while the city explores hiring a city administrator.

The full-time position would come with a $30,000 a year pay increase, bringing the mayor’s annual compensation to $39,600.

The deaths of two former city police officers — for whom the city was paying all medical costs, per state law — left the city with an unanticipated $30,000 in savings in the general fund, said Mari Ripp, the city’s clerk/treasurer. The proposal would use that money to pay Laseke’s salary, she said.

Laseke, 58, currently works as an emergency manager for Cowlitz County. If the City Council decides to make the mayor position full-time, Laseke said he will quit his job at the county. The city salary, Laseke pointed out, is $35,000 less than what he’s making at his current job.

“I’m doing this for the city’s benefit — not because I’m getting something out of this,” Laseke said. “It’s a sacrifice.”

If the council approves the full-time mayor position, it will not include health benefits, Laseke said. However, the city is currently paying Laseke’s medical costs as part of the plan he had when he worked as the city’s police chief, Ripp said. Officers currently on the force have a different plan, she said.

The city resolution is in response to a consultant’s 2011 organizational assessment of the city’s structure and management. The report, conducted by the Prothman consulting firm, recommended the city hire a full-time, professional city administrator.

In February, the council asked Laseke, who took office in January, to review the Prothman report. Laseke reviewed the report and agreed that hiring a city administrator is a top priority.

During two April meetings, the council discussed increasing Laseke’s pay and having him perform his duties on a full-time basis through 2015.

With Laseke at the helm full-time, the city’s finance committee would begin searching for funding options to pay a city administrator salary, which is estimated to be between $150,000 and $200,000 a year, Ripp said. The human resource committee would develop a plan for selecting and hiring an administrator.

Once the city hires a professional administrator, the mayor position would return to a part-time position with the current pay of $9,600 per year, Laseke said.

The Woodland City Council meeting begins at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 100 Davidson Ave. The meeting will include public comment.

If the resolution is approved, the council will then consider in June an ordinance authorizing the pay increase. Laseke said he likely wouldn’t begin working full time until early July.

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546; http://twitter.com/col_health; http://facebook.com/reporterharshman; marissa.harshman@columbian.com.

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