St. Helens City Council votes to request proposals from candidates before renewing contracts for municipal court employees

The city of St. Helens will issue requests for proposals for a judge and a city prosecutor position at the city's municipal court.

The St. Helens City Council voted unanimously Wednesday night, March 7, to approve the RFPs, which will be open for applications until mid-April.

The city currently contracts with Judge Cindy Phillips and city prosecutor Clayton Lance, whose contracts are set to expire at the end of the fiscal year in June. Phillips has worked with the city for many years as a judge, while Lance was hired last summer when the city court program went through a revamp to make the courts more financially and procedurally efficient.

During a City Council work session in February, City Finance Director Matt Brown asked the council if they wanted to renew the contracts or issue RFPs to see if any other applicants were interested in the positions.

Currently, Phillips and Lance have year-long contracts, but have check-ins with the city council every 90 days to evaluate the progress of various changes being made in the court department.

In February, Brown reported that during the first half of the fiscal year, the court department was generating more revenue that it had in previous years for the same time period. The department was also projected to match its expenses for the year, an improvement over 2016-17 finances when expenses outpaced revenue by roughly $153,000.

At previous work sessions, Councilors Susan Conn and Keith Locke expressed interest in monitoring improvements in areas other than finances as well. Conn said she favored getting applications from others interested in the municipal court positions prior to renewing current contracts.

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