Two temporary positions — an Information Technology (IT) technician and an Emergency Management Coordinator — were added to the city staff roster on July 27 for the remainder of 2020, with city staff noting they’ve seen an increased need in services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sue Hagener, administrative services director, said the new positions amount to 1.62 full-time equivalents at about $89,000 for salaries and benefits.
City councilors agreed 6-1, with Troy Tenneson opposed, to mid-year budget amendments that included the new positions.
Tenneson said he felt much has been allocated already for relief in the city during COVID-19, and that existing staff could do some of the work described.
“It all adds up,” he said. “If I was a senior citizen on a fixed income, I’d ask, ‘Are you doing the best you can with funds?’”
City staff said the emergency coordinator will help the city respond to the pandemic and emergency orders, while the IT technician will help city staff, volunteers and the community continue to connect remotely.
Anthony Martin, City of Sequim’s IT program manager, said with COVID-19 issues the city was “forced to pivot quite quickly” and that the number of incidents for interrupted IT services and new IT requests for service have “drastically gone up, with a lot of staff learning new software.”
Police Chief Sheri Crain said the emergency coordinator position is a support position and does not take away from her role or the amount she’s involved.
“There’s just a lot of work to go around,” she said. “(The position is) a way to leverage and to stay ahead of what we’re working with.”
Hagener said city staff “are always assessing” and that for the 2021 budget it’s likely the two positions will be proposed to be kept with cuts in other areas.
“We have shown our community and council that we have solid budget discipline,” Hagener said.
City manager Charlie Bush said there’s a potential for federal and state reimbursements but they won’t come to the city until after the pandemic is over.
On Aug. 10, Hagener previewed potential staff change recommendations for the 2021 budget that includes adding a part-time marketing and communications coordinator and making the two new temporary positions full-time.
The marketing/communications coordinator is budgeted for $19,500, which would bring tourism promotion in-house and cost less than the $28,000 that was contracted out this year.
Barbara Hanna, Sequim’s communications and marketing director, said official city business wasn’t outsourced and that by bringing the contracts in-house it creates more flexibility and allows them to be more efficient.
For the IT position, Hagener said it brings the department back to three full-time employees after cuts were made in 2018.
She and other city staff said both the IT and emergency coordinator positions would be reevaluated in 2021 upon return to “normal operations.”
Deputy Mayor Tom Ferrell said he trusts “the staff keeps an eye on the head count.”
“We want to be sensitive to a lot of people being laid off,” he said. “I don’t want to see government grow. If we don’t have that sensitivity, we’re doing a disservice there.”
Hagener will begin presenting more 2021 budget recommendations in September.
For more information, visit www.sequimwa.gov or call 360-683-4139.