FALLS CITY – Members of the Falls City City Council agreed to undergo further training on their roles on the council after Councilor TJ Bailey said he believed ethical violations had been committed.
“The first step in having a professional functioning council is making sure all council members know their role and abide by the rules of our charter, which is one of our goals for council,” Bailey said at the Sept. 8 meeting. “Therefore, I make the motion to schedule trainings on roles, rules and responsibilities of our elected council as soon as possible.”
He said the cost would be about $1,000, which is budgeted for under professional services.
Among the violations, he said, were council members interfering in the job of city administration.
Bailey’s recommendation was that all council members attend training to better understand their responsibilities. He suggested that the training be given by Falls City City Attorney Ross Williamson.
Councilor Jennifer Drill asked if Bailey had considered a different source for the training than Williamson.
“I haven’t … because that’s the person who knows our and regulations the best,” Bailey said.
Councilor Dennis Sickles said in the past training was done by the League of Oregon Cities.
“The training we get from them is a little more general than what we are talking about here,” Sickles said.
Bailey said he had not looked into other resources because Williamson is most familiar with the city’s charter and rules for the council.
Mayor Jeremy Gordon said review council rules on a yearly basis is a good idea, especially as new members are added to the council. He said Corthell or Clyne would consult with Williamson on the content of the training.
“We will be in touch about scheduling that,” Gordon said.
Bailey, who was appointed to the council in January to finish a term of a vacated seat, wrote in a memo to the council included in the Sept. 8 packet that he believed some members of the council have committed ethical violations due to their lack of understanding of their job. He didn’t name the councilors.
“These council members have demonstrated that they are above the rules of our charter and are entitled to cross over into the area of inappropriate attempts to influence staff’s administrative responsibilities,” Bailey wrote in the memo. “This greatly concerns me.”
He said the role of the council is to decide what the city’s policies should be while the city administration figures out how to implement those policies based on their knowledge and experience.
“The select few council members who attempt to influence or direct staff outside a public forum as to how to implement of deliver day-to-day services makes it extremely difficult if not impossible for them to fulfill their responsibilities,” Bailey wrote. “This is a clear violation of our charter rules.”
Bailey said that council interference may be one reason for the city’s high turnover rate of administrators. He said that a city manager should feel able to give advice he or she feels is appropriate for the city regardless of how individual councilors feel about it.
“Additionally, I believe that one of the least favorable tasks for a city manager is to tell an individual council member or the council as a whole something they don’t what to hear,” Bailey said. “We will never be well served by a manager who will not tell us when something is not appropriate or cannot be achieved simply to avoid appearing uncooperative.”
In other business, the council
Approved a contract with interim city manager David Clyne at a meeting on Sept. 8.