City Council agrees to contract with Don Otterman for interim city management duties

OttermanScappoose city councilors on Monday, Dec. 16, accepted a contract to hire Don Otterman as the city’s interim city manager.

Otterman will start Jan. 2 and will exercise day-to-day control of the city’s operations, devoting 24 hours a week to the city, until his contract expires June 30 or until a full-time city manager is hired.

Otterman is filling the position vacated when the City Council terminated former City Manager Jon Hanken’s contract in November.

Otterman served as the interim city manager for the city of Hood River until Thursday, Dec. 12.

Otterman served previously as the Scappoose city manager during a more than four-year period from January 1995 to April 1999, at which time he left to take a position as the city manager in North Plains.

City councilors pressed Otterman on his approach to current city issues prior to approving his contract.

Scappoose City Councilor Jason Meshell asked Otterman during the meeting how he would go about outlining the city’s budget with respect to the city’s tough financial times.

“I would meet with each of the individual department heads and develop their department budget based upon the goals established by the council,” Otterman replied. “After council has its goals established, then I would work to develop the programs or projects that each department is going to pursue over the year and develop with the finance director a projection of revenues...I would work closely with the finance director and the department heads in developing a budget that would meet the parameters of the council goals and the financial situation that the city is in.”

Otterman acknowledged some of the issues confronting the city.

“I know that this next year is going to be a challenge because of the separation of the previous city manager. I think there’s some money that’s going to need to be found to cover those costs and to continue on with the operations of the city,” Otterman said, adding that he would probably seek to cut back on certain projects in order to save money.

Councilor Barbara Hayden asked Otterman how he might begin recruitment for a full-time city manager. Otterman said he would likely get started on that at the city’s Jan. 6 council meeting.

“I, quite frankly, have already made contact with the [League of Oregon Cities],” he said, adding that the city needs to find a permanent city manager as soon as possible.

Otterman told the Spotlight Dec. 4 that recent investigations into Scappoose Police Chief Douglas Greisen — including into allegations he mismanaged a Feb. 4 pursuit, a former officer’s claim he led a hostile work environment and discovery of cash and bank receipts tied to an unauthorized account in a locked drawer in his office — will be at the top of his list as he takes the position as city manager.

Otterman held his position as city manager for North Plains for 12 years until his partial retirement in 2011. He has since served as interim city manager in the communities of Rockaway Beach, Wheeler and, most recently, Hood River.

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