Interim city manager appoints Ron Bunch to the job

Lake Oswego has a new planning and building director.

Interim City Manager Tom Coffee announced Tuesday that he has hired Ron Bunch as the interim head of planning and building services. The position had been vacant since Denise Frisbee, who worked for the city since 2004, retired early last year.

Coffee said he understood that Assistant City Manager David Donaldson, while working one a one-year contract as city manager, kept the position open to save money — instead, a bit of department reorganization allowed existing employees to assume new responsibilities, filling in any open spots.

However, Coffee said, “I think it’s fairly unheard of to have a department position of that importance vacant for a year.”

Of Bunch, he added, “He’s someone I have the utmost respect for.”

Bunch most recently worked as community development director for the city of Tigard. He resigned from that job last summer. Coffee has also worked for the city of Tigard, where he was community development director from September 2005 to January 2009.

The two previously worked together in Lake Oswego for 10 years. Bunch was managing long-range planning here when he left the job in 2001, shortly after Coffee departed.

Bunch, who started work Tuesday, stepped into the job with some big projects already under way, including a review of the city’s program protecting environmentally sensitive lands and a three-year effort to update the city’s comprehensive plan. Bunch worked on developing the existing comprehensive plan when he first worked here.

Coffee said he’d like the update process to move more quickly than it has so far. He said Bunch’s job is considered “interim” because the council is now starting the recruitment effort for a permanent city manager, and he didn’t want to obligate the future chief executive to a new hire in such a key department.

Bunch’s contract is for six months but can be terminated without cause at any time. It can be extended past July 22 for up to six months. According to his contract, he’ll be paid about $8,987 monthly. He’ll also receive paid vacation time, sick leave and insurance benefits.

In a news release, Bunch said he looks forward to guiding the planning department, especially working on the comprehensive plan revision and developing a plan for its implementation.

“The department provides services of great importance to the city and interacts with the public on a daily basis,” he said. “What they do is important and I look forward to working with the community, staff, city manager and council.”

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