St. Paul City Council cancels meeting, unclear of the next steps to take to fill post

COURTESY PHOTO - Gene GreenThe St. Paul City Council's plans to hire an interim city manager were abruptly thrown back to square one last week when the sole candidate for the job withdrew his application the day he was supposed to be hired.

The applicant, Gene Green, explained that the employment contract he received the evening before the scheduled meeting last week didn't match the agreement that he thought he came to with the council during his interview July 20.

Specifically, he said the contract would have made him a consultant working two days per week, rather than a part-time position for at least three days per week.

"I tried to explain my situation and how I thought I could manage better as a part-time employee … they did not agree," Green said. "I wish St. Paul the best … but they need to find someone who can work with them on a steadier basis."

After canceling the meeting scheduled for Aug. 2, Mayor Kim Wallis confirmed that Green had withdrawn his application, but he declined to comment further, noting that the contract negotiations are confidential.

During their July 20 meeting, all five council members expressed their support for hiring Green and unanimously approved a motion to instruct the city attorney to draft an employment contract for him.

Numerous councilors took interest in Green's background in human resources and looked forward to the potential for him to mend fences between the council and its employees.

Although specific issues haven't been aired publicly, the council was recently sent into a scramble when both city staff members unexpectedly went on extended sick leave the week of the St. Paul Rodeo. Both returned to work by the end of July.

"I think there's a lot of room for improvement here," said Councilor Marty Waldo at the July 20 meeting. "We need some team building … I think we need to rebuild a whole bunch of stuff. There's a lot of dysfunction here and we need a central leader that can bring us all together and facilitate some good communication."

Green has about 32 years of experience in city management, including as city manager of Molalla and public works director of West Linn. Most recently, he served as city manager of Damascus, and, as part of that city's disincorporation last year, he took a one-year project manager position with Clackamas County, which ended in July.

During Green's interview, the council seemed to come to a preliminary agreement with Green that he would start near full-time and quickly drop down to part-time for the rest of an open-ended, roughly six-month contract, but his being a consultant wasn't explicitly discussed.

Green requested a wage of $50 per hour while the city had set aside about $40,000 in this year's budget for the position.

Reached last week, Green said the office of the city attorney — held by Laura Schroeder of Schroeder Law Offices, P.C. — drafted a contract for him as a consultant at two days a week. He explained that he felt he could not help the city address the issues it's facing as a consultant at just two days a week.

Schroeder could not be reached for comment last week.

Green was the last of four candidates the council had reached out to for the position from a list of potential interim city managers kept by the League of Oregon Cities.

Wallis said the council will likely discuss what to do next during its next meeting Thursday evening, and he has inquired about other potential candidates with the League of Oregon Cities and Oregon City/County Management Association in the meantime.

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