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Cornelius may hire contractor to identify cuts

City will turn to League of Oregon Cities for city manager search, hire outsider for charter violation investigation

Although the Cornelius City Council couldn't vote when they met Monday night (they were in worksession), the five members ran through a series of issues left hanging after the June firing of City Manager Dave Waffle.

Acting manager Paul Rubenstein encouraged city councilors to put the search for a replacement for Waffle on hold until after an attempt to recall Mayor Neal Knight and councilors Jamie Minshall and Mari Gottwald. But Knight made it clear he'd like to get the process going now.

The city council will meet Aug. 8 to discuss the next steps in finding a replacement for Waffle, and Rubenstein, who is temporarily filling the job of city manager (he's the city's police chief).

Rubenstein also told the council he planned to hire an independent investigator to examine a series of charges that Knight violated the city charter by trying to influence day-to-day operations in city hall.

The investigation shouldn't cost more than $2,000, Rubenstien said. Councilor Gottwald said she had no problem with sending the investigations to an independent party, as long as it was a neutral unbiased one.

Knight also talked about looking into hiring a firm that could examine the city's operations seeking cost savings.

City Councilor Jef Dalin urged caution in that regard, saying that hiring a consulting firm would likely cost the city on the order of $15,000 to $20,000, an expense it may not be able to afford following the ouster of Waffle, which triggered a severance payment of more than $100,000.

That unbudgeted expense has the city on the ropes, Dalin said, and he'd rather wait until after the city's annual audit before signing off on new expenses for hiring a city manager or other contracts.

'I think we're OK,' Dalin said. 'but I don't want to say think.'

Minshall wondered if Rubenstein could contact firms that could assess the city's operations. Rubenstein said he could, but if the city council decided to hire a firm, they'd need to follow state contracting rules.

City councilor Steve Heinrich warned that hiring an independent firm may not result in cost savings, as the city council may not like the ideas such a firm generates in its review.