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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Ann Rivers takes buyout to leave Longview assistant city manager position

Longview city attorney also resigning effective May 30

By Brennen Kauffman, The Daily News
Published: May 22, 2024, 7:45am

LONGVIEW — Longview is paying Assistant City Manager Ann Rivers and City Attorney Dana Gigler at least $100,000 combined to stop working for the city.

Gigler and Rivers have agreed to buyout and separation agreements sent to them in the last two weeks by interim City Manager Jim Duscha. Gigler signed her agreement May 9 and will take effect on May 30, according to city records obtained through a public records request. Rivers’ agreement was signed Monday and took effect immediately.

In both documents, Longview agreed to pay each employee six months of their salary as a severance package along with paying out any unused vacation time and extending their health benefits as required by the federal COBRA standards. The Longview City Council is set to vote Thursday night on a service agreement with lawyer Charlotte Archer, of Bellevue’s Inslee Best Doezie & Ryder P.S., to work for the city while it searches for a new attorney.

The Daily News reached out to Rivers directly for comment Tuesday, but did not immediately hear back. Longview city spokesperson Angela Abel said Wednesday she was not sure if Duscha or the employees originated the split.

On Wednesday, the city posted the city attorney and community development director positions, the latter of which Rivers also held. Both positions are advertised with pay starting around $115,000 and will take applications until a final hire is made. There is no current posting for an assistant city manager and it’s unclear if that position will be filled.

Three exec staff members gone

Gigler was hired as the city attorney in August. When Longview advertised the city attorney job, the pay range was listed between $117,000 and $159,000 per year.

Rivers was paid at least $100,000 per year as the city’s community development director when she was first hired in 2021. Rivers would have received multiple step raises since then, as well as any pay increase that came with also becoming the assistant city manager in April 2023.

Rivers announced last month she would not seek re-election as an 18th District state senator due to an increase in her workload at the city of Longview, as well as the fact that her city of residence, La Center, is no longer in her district after redistricting, according to a news release.

The officials are the third members of the city’s executive leadership team to leave since Duscha was approved as the interim city manager in March and previous City Manager Kris Swanson was fired by the City Council in a 4-3 vote.

Technology Director David Wallis took a job with Lower Columbia College in April. The city is also operating without a fire chief after Duscha chose not to hire either of the two finalists interviewed in April.

The Longview City Council cannot hire or fire any city employees, as those duties fall to the city manager.

Rivers and Gigler frequently clashed with the recently elected members of the Longview City Council. Councilmember Keith Young briefly proposed a resolution in February to audit Rivers’ work as the assistant city manager due to vaguely defined concerns about how her work schedule overlapped with her role as a state senator.

Criticisms against Gigler have increased since four councilmembers were sued for alleged violations of the Open Public Meetings Act. In a motion filed by their a shared attorney Nick Power of San Juan Island, Young and Erik Halvorson criticized Gigler for not representing the councilmembers or providing them with a city-funded defense attorney in the lawsuit. In one of the court motions, Power called Gigler a “long-time political ally of the now terminated Swanson.”

Earlier this month the judge overseeing the lawsuit ordered Longview to join the lawsuit and cover the councilmembers’ reasonable attorney fees.