Council debates park maintenance contract, administrative assistant
July 18, 2019
Members of the Cathlamet Town Council acted on a variety of business when they met Monday, including debating park maintenance and a possible town administrator.
Council Member Sue Cameron, who announced she is moving away from Cathlamet and will attend her last council meeting in August, said she has been unsatisfied with maintenance of town parks by the current landscape contractor and had sought a quote for services from a different company, Elochoman Valley Partners (EVP).
Public Works Director Duncan Cruickshank had met with EVP personnel and obtained a list of price quotes. However, he suggested additional tasks could be added and increase maintenance of all parks around town, for his staff is stretched thin and has other priorities.
He added that town staff have been unable to locate a copy of a contract with the current, longstanding contractor.
Also, he hadn't sought bids from any other contractors.
Council Member Laurel Waller asked if public works staff should be doing the work or it should be outsourced.
"I don't believe we're getting good service currently," Cameron said. "If they were doing it, I wouldn't care."
Waller said she wanted to know more about costs before acting.
Council members generally were open to increasing maintenance activities to spruce up parks.
Cruickshank said he would meet with EVP manager Brice Wosniak to update costs and also to check with another contractor and report at the council's August meeting.
Council members also discussed adding staff to assist the mayor in administrative duties.
Waller suggested an assistant could help with completing reports, writing grant applications and keeping track of various projects for which the mayor and public works director are responsible.
"My input is that you'd better draw up a pretty tight contract," commented Town Attorney Fred Johnson. "Most city managers want a big parachute clause [in case of firing]; it's a big investment, and I suggest it be very carefully looked at."
Waller said she isn't looking for a city manager or town administrator, but someone to support the public works department.
Cameron commented that the City of Kelso brought in millions of grant dollars because they have someone assigned to do that work.
"This council could do a great service in taking up this discussion," said Council Member David Olson. "The next council could make the decision."
Waller and Cruickshank agreed to meet and draft a job description for further consideration.