Letters to the editor

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I am writing about the mayor’s criticism of Randy Kugler.  I want to address the issue concerning payment of the City Manager from the Water Bureau funds.  Randy was City Manager in Manzanita for 8 years and is familiar with the amount of time spent handling duties and recognized that 50% was out of line.  The percentage paid to the City Managers of cities of comparable size to Manzanita is about is about 15% for oversight of the Water Bureau yet our City Manager and Assistant City Manager each receive 50%, in effect 100% of one employee’s salary.

 Most people who are familiar with this issue, know that Jerry Taylor was paid about 25 percent to oversee the Water Bureau until the new Water Treatment Plant was under construction about 15 years ago.  Because he was overseeing construction, his pay from the Water fund was bumped up to 50%.  When the construction was finished, the percentage should have dropped  down, but every year since, the 50% is still used.  In many small cities in Oregon, the City Manager is also responsible to watch over public works, yet Manzanita has a full time director to take care of the Water Bureau, and for questions about water bills, we have a clerk.  Why would the

City Managers be paid at 50 percent to oversee the Water Bureau.

 The mayor’s press release and letter say that Randy Kugler threatened to sue the City of Manzanita over this.

In truth, some citizen’s of Manzanita approached Randy with questions about a lawsuit.  Randy told the city that they could be open to a lawsuit, but there was time before the 2019/2020 budget was ratified to drop those percentages down to a reasonable amount.  Instead, the Mayor said he was forced to spend a year reviewing the matter and since that percentage had been used for “20 years” it validated that it was appropriate.  Why not just ask the Managers to keep time cards as the  Public Works employees do and act accordingly?  That would validate it.

 The press release mentions that outside auditors, Accuity,LLC were asked to “thoroughly review the situation.  They found no issues or concerns.”  That sounds very good, BUT auditors come in once a year to look over the books.  They have nothing to do with rates paid to employees.  They are there to see that whatever the city agreed to pay was paid, not to watch over the City Manager to see how her time was spent.

 The mayor hired FCS Group to undertake an analysis. I listened to the full report.  In the absence of time cards, he had to construct what the City Manager does out of thin air, so he relied on the City Council Meetings and what subjects came up to allocate time spent.  Very hard to do accurately, but he complied.  Randy asked if the City Manager and Assistant City Manager were entitled to 50 percent of their salary from the water fund.  The City’s consultant said that the maximum that could be justified was 30 percent for each.  The City could not provide a single example of personnel management activities during the past two years that the consultant’s model used to justify those 30% allocations.

 When you’ve been taking advantage of a money stream for “20 years” and you realize it was not right, it is a big loss, but the honorable course of action would be to admit that a mistake has been made and change it.  You do not go after the person who pointed out the mistake, slander him, and make him the scapegoat for your failure to do the right thing.

Shannon Staehnke

Manzanita

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