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Council approves city manager pact

A nine-month contract for current Mercer Island interim assistant city manager Linda Herzog to serve as Sequim's interim city manager beginning Dec. 2 at $7,080 per month was approved unanimously by the city council at its Dec. 1 study session.

The council also voted 5-1 to appoint Karen Goschen, the city's administrative services director, as acting city manager from Jan. 3-17 while Herzog is on a previously arranged vacation. City Councilor Walt Schubert voted "no" and City Councilor Ken Hays was absent.

The council agreed at its Nov. 24 meeting to hire Herzog while Waldron and Co. of Seattle searches for both a public works director and city manager, the latter of which could take until June.

Robert Spinks, the city's current interim city manager, was scheduled for major surgery on Dec. 3 and will be recuperating for up to eight weeks.

City Attorney Craig Ritchie said the original one-year contract for Herzog was modified to nine months at $7,080.33 per month.

A sentence could be added to the contract stating it is contingent upon Herzog successfully completing a background check, he said.

The contract also includes a $700 monthly housing allowance instead of a vehicle allowance because she doesn't want to commute from Brinnon, Ritchie said.

The salary was what Herzog required, along with the nine-month contract, which still is less than what a city manager would cost, he said.

Herzog will be gone from Jan. 3-17, so an acting city manager will be needed during that time, Ritchie said, adding, "and it doesn't have to be me."

"Do you believe we need her for nine months? Could it be six?" asked City Councilor Walt Schubert.

Ritchie said Herzog wants a nine-month contract because she has received other offers and the council will need to have her available during the transition to the permanent city manager.

Mayor Laura Dubois said perhaps Goschen could serve as acting city manager instead of Ritchie.

Ritchie was acting city manager from Nov. 17-23 while Spinks was at a conference.

Prior to that vote, City Councilor Paul McHugh said, "Why do we need to make this change at this time?"

City Councilor Susan Lorenzen said it seemed that Ritchie was urging the council to consider an alternative to himself.

"Has anyone talked to Karen about this? I'm not in favor of change for the sake of change," McHugh said.

Ritchie said other people could do the job, such as himself or planning director Dennis Lefevre or capital projects manager Frank Needham.

"I can do it," Goschen said. "I'm willing to do whatever I need to do."

Schubert said Goschen is a great employee but because of Ritchie's experience, he would prefer to see Ritchie continue as acting city manager.

But City Councilor Erik Erichsen said the council will have budget issues to deal with during that time and Goschen also has a good handle on what needs to be done for the city.

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