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In our opinion: Committee should set city managers salary lower

During a recession, its hard to believe qualified candidates cant be found for less money


The search for a new city manager in Newberg continues this week with news that the subcommittee charged with shepherding the search will recommend to the City Council the salary range for the city’s next leader: $110,000 to $130,000.

While the base number is less than the $123,624 annual salary former city manager Dan Danicic was making before he left the position in disgrace after admitting to an affair with a subordinate, it’s still a large chunk of cash.Dec. 11 editorial

And while we’ve beat this horse before, we’re going to do it again: regardless of what city managers are making in similar-sized towns or at corporations with the same work force, that kind of money is too much for Newberg.

What’s more, it’s disheartening that the search committee and the organization it has commissioned to conduct the search, the League of Oregon Cities, hasn’t considered ratcheting down the salary range to something more reasonable, say $80,000 to $95,000. That could save the city upwards of $40,000, enough to pave three or four short streets or begin doing something with the city’s land across First Street from City Hall.

Municipalities have descended into a mindset where they believe they have to pay top dollar to get qualified applicants, but we have a hard time believing there isn’t a candidate or three out there that has the skills needed to administrate this small bureaucracy and will do it for less.

Besides, where is the crime in trying to lure a qualified candidate to Newberg for less money? At worst, the pool of candidates is not to the subcommittee’s liking, they up the salary range, re-advertise the opening and try again.

In September, the city appointed assistant city manager Lee Elliott to fill the position on an interim basis and, surprise, the sky didn’t fall and the city didn’t go broke. Our view is that the city should take advantage of the enviable position of having someone in place to craft the search for a candidate with the proper credentials who can do the job for less.

It’s common, especially during the past five years of recession, for our readers to complain that the city is providing fewer and fewer services while paying administrators princely salaries. Witnesses to both the poor state of infrastructure in Newberg and the often-times ridiculous salaries and benefits of government officials, we would be hard-pressed to disagree. Cuts have been made in other areas of the city budget that have impacted residents for the worse, it’s time those cuts applied to the salaries of incoming officials.

This is a chance for the City Council to return some frugality to the budgeting process in Newberg. Our hope is they will seize that opportunity.




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