As of Tuesday, May 15, 2018
FALLS CITY — Thursday was the end of one era and the start of another for the city of Falls City.
The Falls City City Council approved the contract with new city manager Mac Corthell, whose first day was Friday, and bid farewell to interim manager Terry Ungricht.
Mayor Jeremy Gordon read a long list of Ungricht’s accomplishments in his time as the volunteer city manager and mayor.
He said Ungricht was successful in securing and overseeing several grants for projects, participated in many community events, helped his public works crew on repairs, restored the city’s code enforcement and municipal court programs, and learned to write city budgets.
“This list is not meant to be exhaustive and does not include the many examples of day-to-day problem solving and service to citizens,” he said. “On behalf of the city of Falls City, I want to express deep gratitude for Terry’s service to our city.”
Ungricht had volunteered in the position since June 2015 and will officially retire after training Corthell in his new position. He served on the city council before being elected mayor in 2014.
Ungricht plans to move to Idaho with his wife to be closer to his daughter and grandchildren.
“We wish him a long and fruitful retirement and now that he will never stop working on the things that he loves,” Gordon said.
Corthell’s contract gives him a starting salary of $63,400. That doesn’t include Public Employees Retirement System or insurance costs, a concern for councilor Jennifer Drill.
“I’ll just be honest with you guys, I’m not quite sure where the money is going to come from when we didn’t have the money in the first place to pay for a manager,” Drill said.
Ungricht said the city has to shift money away from other projects to pay for a manager.
“We were very unfortunate that we had a very cheap manager and were able to use that money in other places,” Ungricht said. “It’s going to slow down some of the movement.”
He said the last city manager was making about $57,000 four years ago, so Corthell’s salary is in line with what it should be.
“It’s something this town’s always struggled with,” he said. “It’s tough.”
Ungricht said the Falls City is experiencing some growth, and that can continue once the wastewater treatment plant is upgraded.
“I just want us to be wise and be able to somehow save, or whatever it takes, and looking ahead be very diligent in that,” Drill said.
Corthell responded to those concerns.
“I understand the needs of a small city and I understand many of the challenges. One of the challenges is always going to be money,” he said. “Part of my job is to make sure that we are using our dollars and stretching them as far as we can stretch them in order accomplish the things that we need to accomplish.”
He said if after the city completes upcoming projects, like the sewer system overhaul, that he concludes a full-time city manager isn’t needed, he will say so.
“It’s my fiduciary duty to let you guys know that,” he said.
Corthhell said he’s looking for homes in the area to cut down on his drive to and from Sherwood. He said that might take a while as inventory of homes for sale is low.
“The commute is going to be tough and I would ask for a little bit of understanding at first,” he said. “But I anticipate being able to meet every duty as needed, be here every hour as needed.”
Corthell will be evaluated at six months and is eligible for a 5 percent raise at that time, bringing his salary to about $66,000. The contract was approved unanimously.