We can learn from our neighbors
January 26, 2023
To The Eagle:
Mayor Olson’s council letter published in last week’s Eagle attempted to counter my earlier stated rationale regarding Cathlamet’s need for a town manager. By picking and choosing certain details, yet conveniently forgetting others, his obfuscating of actual facts (while accepting limited accountability) actually helps make my case.
My statements were largely based off previous budget discussions with our clerk treasurer, direct Q&A with Jon Hinton (the town’s consulting engineer at the time) and time spent on both the town’s planning commission and council. I could go on, but my solution to future messes like Butler Street starts with making a call to Clatskanie.
Clatskanie’s population is a little larger than Cathlamet’s, but otherwise, it’s similar as a town. It has its own water and sewer plant, is largely dependent on logging, and has a similar revenue base.
It’s a very well run town, overseen by a professional manager who I’ve met with twice. Accordingly, Clatskanie’s mayor takes a lesser role in its daily operations.
I encourage Cathlamet’s council to invite John Hinkelman, Clatskanie’s manager, to one of our council meetings. It would be an opportunity for our council to pick his brain on the pros and cons he sees with Clatskanie’s governing structure, especially aspects of essential longer term financial and developmental planning. There’s a reason many towns and cities, both small and large (now including Portland) are increasingly resorting to this efficient form of government. Managers can be fired for ineptitude. Not so for mayors.
Cathlamet can learn from our neighbors. We have nothing to lose by taking this initiative.