Camas city administrator vacancy drawing interest

Plans are to make a hire by the end of the year

By Tyler Graf, Columbian county government reporter

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Camas plans to hire a permanent city administrator by the end of the year, following an internally run search for new candidates. City officials said there’s already interest in the position.

Once hired, the new administrator will replace Nina Regor, who died last month at the age of 51. She’d served as the city’s top administrator for less than a year, replacing long-time City Administrator Lloyd Halverson, who announced his retirement in 2012 and stepped down earlier this year. Human Resources Director Jennifer Gorsuch is serving as the interim city administrator.

Camas formally commenced its search for Regor’s replacement Monday by posting a job description to its website. It’s the second time in less than two years that the city has attempted to forgo a headhunting consultant and recruit a city administrator on its own, part of a concerted effort to save money on a process that can be costly. The city has already contracted with Paul Lewis, a Vancouver-based financial consultant, to help the city write its 2014 budget. The contract calls for the city to pay Lewis $115 an hour, up to $27,000.

The city’s first attempt to recruit a city administrator on its own didn’t end in a signed contract, however. After whittling down a field of 51 candidates in July 2012, Camas took a pass on its two finalists. The city eventually signed a $23,000 contract with recruitment consultant Waldron & Company in October 2012 to lead a new search, which resulted in Regor’s hiring. She started in January.

Mayor likes candidates

The company will play a smaller role this time around. City councilors Monday approved a $2,000 contract with Waldron to vet the finalists.

Camas expects to make a hiring decision by the end of December. Pay will be between $113,500 and $135,600.

“We will have some excellent candidates from what we’re hearing right now,” Gorsuch said. “We’ve received indications there are a lot of people interested in this position.”

Mayor Scott Higgins said he’d fielded calls from three candidates who had expressed interest in the job. The candidates “excited” him, he said.

Officials say they learned from the scuttled attempt in the summer of 2012 to recruit a city administrator without the assistance of a recruitment firm and don’t expect a repeat.

“I have no doubt in my mind we’ll have someone in place by the end of the year,” Higgins said.

In Camas the city administrator manages daily operations, including overseeing budgetary adjustments, and implements policy decisions made by the city council. The city’s employment notice says an ideal candidate will have knowledge of labor relations, community development and growth management issues. The last is particularly important, Higgins said.

Last month, the Camas City Council approved a development agreement for 460 acres near Lacamas Lake — a deal that promises to bring a mix of residential and commercial development.

It’s one piece in the city’s 20-year growth plan, with an emphasis on recently annexed land north of the lake, where more than 1,500 acres of property lie. The city of roughly 20,000 people has a 20-year population goal of 34,800.