City Council Work Session - Minutes

Mon., May. 8, 2017

Mayor Drotzmann called the work session meeting to order at 6:00 pm. Present were Councilors Hardin, Myers, Davis, and Gutierrez. Councilors Kirwan, Beas-Fitzgerald, Primmer, and Smith were excused. Staff members in attendance were City Manager Byron Smith, City Attorney Gary Luisi, Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan, Chief Edmiston, Clinton Spencer, Roy Bicknell, Ron Sivey, Amy Palmer, Bill Schmittle, Larry Fetter, and Lilly Alarcon-Strong. News media present were Jade Mc Dowell of the East Oregonian.

Reorganizational Plan

City Manager Smith stated he wanted to give a more detailed description of what will be presented at the Budget Meeting later this month, and get any feedback from the Council regarding these changes. City Manager Smith stated a few months ago, he asked Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan to compile a list of all of the duties and projects he works on. As a result of this inquiry, it was made clear that Assistant City Manager Morgan was being stretched too thin; as new projects or assignments came up, they would just be pushed in his direction. To be more efficient and address this issue and other needs the City has had, City Manager Smith, Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan and Finance Director Amy Palmer have come up with a City Hall Reorganization Plan, changes include:

  • The Finance Department will now be called the Administrative Services Department. This will add Human Resources, Information Technology, Insurance Claims, and TRT/TPA Administration. Of which, some of these services were being administered by Mr. Morgan. This will also allow the City to have a much needed, dedicated Human Resources Specialist Crystal Inners. Mrs. Inners had already been spending about 80% of her time performing Human Resources services, but will now have a separate office to allow for confidentiality and to address other state and federal mandates. Mrs. Inners will also continue her education for HR Certifications as required. Finance Director Amy Palmer has been given a new title as the Administrative Services Director.
  • The Parks and Recreation Department will undertake the Conference Center which had been being administered by Mr. Morgan. It made sense to make this change as the Parks and Recreation Department will be moving to the Conference Center.
  • Many cities Hermiston’s size have a Public Works Director, but the City does not have the funding to create this position; therefore, Mr. Morgan will be filling this position as he has been, yet in a more formal setting. Engineering, streets, water, and recycled water departments will report directly to Assistant City Manager Morgan. Mr. Morgan will continue to work on the Municipal Airport, economic development, public transit, public relations, and other items.
  • Mr. Morgan had been working in a combined effort with City Planner Clint Spencer on the Urban Renewal Agency. His role will now be more advisory on this project.
  • The following changes have already been implemented:
    • Executive Assistant Lilly Alarcon-Strong has taken over the website and facebook updates and has had the city email address forwarded to her so she can answer questions and route emails to the appropriate person/department. All of these items had been previously administered by Mr. Morgan.
  • Mrs. Alarcon-Strong has also been working as the Deputy City Recorder and fulfilling most of the City Recorder duties. Mrs. Alarcon-Strong will now become the City Recorder, allowing Ms. Palmer, the current City Recorder, to focus on her new position. Mrs. Alarcon-Strong has been willing to take on this position and has completed more than half of the requirements to earn her Certification as a Certified Municipal Clerk. As a priority, Mrs. Alarcon-Strong will be focusing on a City wide Records Management Policy.
  • Accounting Technician Holly Lambert was hired as a part-time employee, working ¼ for EOTEC and the other ¼ in the Accounting Department for the City. Mrs. Lambert will become a full-time employee continuing her original work but also work directly under Mr. Morgan as the Public Works Executive Assistant. This new role will allow Mr. Morgan and the Public Works Superintendents to relinquish some of the clerical duties they are currently doing and allow them to be more efficient.  

City Manager Smith stated over the past year, the City has been working on cost saving measures, including:

  • Banking/treasury management solutions that will allow the City to earn extra interest on money already in the bank.
  • City Credit Cards will earn rewards to save money in the long term.
  • Outsourcing mailings for the water, garbage, and recycled water billings.

These few changes will result in a savings increase of more than $110,000 next year and higher savings year after year.  These savings will allow for pay increase to Amy Palmer, Crystal Inners, Lilly Alarcon-Strong, and Holly Lambert for their added job functions and responsibilities.

After some discussion the Council felt that Assistant City Manager Morgan and Finance Director Amy Palmer may continue to have too many duties. Both Mr. Morgan and Mrs. Palmer assured the Council that the reorganizational plan would free up more time and allow them to adequately focus their attention on the job duties they will have.

Mayor Drotzmann stated if these changes make the City more efficient and does not cost the City a significant amount of money than he is in support of these changes. The Council sets policies and the City Manager runs the ship; if Mr. Smith believes this is what is best for the City and a better run organization than this is what needs to happen.

Recycling Day Results

Parks and Recreation Director Larry Fetter stated he does not have the final numbers for the Recycling Day Event, but he does know numbers were down by 1/3. He believes the bad weather contributed to the low numbers this year.

Mayor Drotzmann ended the work session at 6:34 pm. The Councilors took a short break before the regular City Council meeting convened at 7:00pm.

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