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North Plains council ousts city manager

Panel votes 5-1 not to renew Martha DeBry's contract after four years


DebryMembers of the North Plains City Council voted 5-1 Monday night, May 4, not to renew the contract of City Manager Martha DeBry, who had been on the job in the small Washington County town for four years.

DeBry came to North Plains after stints as public works director and assistant city manager in Hillsborough, Calif., in 2011, replacing Don Otterman, who retired after more than a decade as city manager.

The council placed DeBry on paid administrative leave through June 30, when her contract ends. Public Works Director Blake Boyles will serve as interim city manager until a permanent person is hired, Mayor David Hatcher said Wednesday.

Councilor Scott Whitehead — who was elected last November along with Sherrie Simmons and Sandi King — made the motion not to renew DeBry’s contract. Only councilor Charlynn Newton voted no, indicating her interest in retaining DeBry.

“The council was not pleased with [DeBry’s] performance evaluation and felt Martha and the city are moving in different directions,” said Whitehead. “The full details are between her and the city. It’s a positive move forward for the city and staff, and I look forward to building a positive work environment at city hall.”

According to Whitehead, the city is facing a deficit of $101,000 in an estimated $1 million general fund budget for the coming fiscal year. The city’s overall operating budget for 2015-16 is about $2.2 mllion.

Hatcher called the shortage a “gap,” something he said Finance Manager Rachael Lembo is working to fix.

“The $100,000 was a starting point,” Hatcher said Wednesday. “We asked ourselves, ‘How are we going to close that gap?’ When we’re done with our budget, we will not have a deficit.”

A final financial blueprint for 2015-16 was expected during a Monday, May 11, meeting of the Budget Committee at the Jessie Mays Community Center, 30975 N.W. Hillcrest St.

Whitehead, who served as North Plains police chief from 2005 to 2010, said he was “not happy with [DeBry’s] performance based on [the] deficit and her inability to connect with staff and the community.”

“We’re not always a perfect fit in every job we have, and for me this was not a good fit for our community and employees,” Whitehead added.

DeBry’s annual salary is $88,041.

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