Another one bites the dust

Five West Linn departments are now leaderless, city manager says

West Linn Human Resources Department Chair Dave Holmgren was fired last week, the fourth department manager to leave the city's employ this year.

City Manager Chris Jordan declined to comment on why he fired Holmgrem.

'I chose to terminate his contract,' Jordan said. 'I made this decision in the best interests of the agency.'

Jordan said Holmgren's termination was not done as a cost-cutting method - even though the city is admittedly facing financial challenges.

In his position, Holmgren earned $78,156 a year. He was given a severance package that included one month paid administrative leave with benefits and six months regular salary.

The package is worth approximately $46,970, said Community Services Coordinator John Atkins.

Holmgren, who had been director of human resources and risk management since March 2005, came to West Linn from California at the invitation of former West Linn City Manager Sandi Farley.

As with other open management-level positions, city officials are not in a hurry to replace the human resources director.

'Eventually, we'll replace the director,' Jordan said.

Jordan chose to temporarily promote Jeri Knudson, who has served the city for 18 years and has been working alongside Holmgren for his entire tenure. Two other city employees will be assisting Knudson.

The human resources director manages recruitment and employee training as well as benefits and insurance. The director also consults with other departments to help reduce risks and liability.

Jordan says it is possible, even with a temporary human resources director, to continue to recruit people to lead the five departments without permanent managers.

Managers are now missing for the finance department, the library, the human resources and risk management department, as well as the public works and engineering department.

As a result, staff is stretched at city hall.

Three people are handling management of the public works and engineering departments, while three people also are sharing duties in management of the library. Meanwhile, separate, temporary managers are handling the finance and human resources departments.

Tenured department managers remaining in the city's employ include Parks and Recreation Director Ken Worcester, Community Services Coordinator John Atkins, Planning Director Bryan Brown and Police Chief Terry Timeus.