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City Council awaits result of investigations on former mayor

Troutdale Mayor Doug Daoust said the city is still waiting on state agencies to complete investigations examining the process in which a controversial building was constructed by former Mayor Jim Kight.

The outcome will help decide the futures of two Troutdale city officials placed on paid leave earlier this year as result of the investigation into the 2,000-square-foot building Kight built next to his house on Jackson Park Road while he was mayor.

Building official Dick Bohlmann and Rich Faith, community development director, have been on paid administrative leave since Feb. 7 and March 8, respectively, costing the city upwards of $68,000.

While restricted from the office, both employees continue to receive normal paychecks.

City Manager Craig Ward said Bohlmann earns an estimated $83,196 a year and Faith earns $102,108.

By those numbers, Bohlmann has received around $34,665 since he was placed on administrative leave five months ago, and Faith has received around $34,036 in four months.

Ward, who has been juggling responsibilities in their absence, said Bohlmann and Faith help out when they can.

“Both continue to be available for assignments, and both have performed limited functions for the city during their absences upon my request and direction.”

Initial investigations began when Troutdale City Councilors raised concerns about the building Kight constructed next to his existing house on Jackson Park Road.

The council said Kight misled city staff and took advantage of the city’s permitting process to get the building approved even though it violates city codes by being a house, complete with an unfinished basement, two offices, a bathroom and a kitchen.

Located along Beaver Creek, an off-shoot of the Sandy River, Kight’s property is in a flood plain and dwellings in a flood plain can’t have basements.

Kight has continuously insisted the building, used as office space to manage his rental properties, is a city-approved, legal accessory structure, and does not qualify as a house. The structure is next to his home, and the property that both buildings are on is zoned as single-family residential.

The city’s investigation was forwarded to numerous government agencies that oversee everything from zoning to state licensure of city officials to flood-plain issues, including the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Those agencies are conducting their own investigations into Kight’s structure and the process under which it was permitted and built. It’s those investigations that have resulted in Bohlmann and Faith being placed on leave.

Daoust said he doesn’t know when those state agencies will release final reports of the investigation, but a hard decision awaits when they are complete and council must decide whether Bohlmann and Faith will keep their jobs with the city.

“Once we get the results, the council will have to make a decision on what to do about it,” Daoust said. “It is one of those hard issues we are going to have to deal with, we just don’t know when quite yet.”

Daoust said the city also is waiting on an investigation by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission — a seven-member citizen commission that enforces government ethics law, which agreed to conduct a formal inquiry into Kight’s structure in November 2012.

The commission will come to a final conclusion on whether it is a violation on Aug. 23, said Ron Bersin, executive director of the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.

Penalities for the former mayor, voted out of office by residents in November, could range from a letter of “education” to a maximum civil penalty of up to $5,000, although some outraged residents have suggested that the city order Kight to tear down the structure.

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