A1 IPD Chief Bob Mason.jpg

Robert Mason

INDEPENDENCE — With Tom Pessemier’s announced resignation Nov. 5, the city of Independence took the first steps last week to fill his city manager’s position.

The City Council approved appointing Chief of Police Bob Mason as the interim city manager. In addition, they approved outsourcing the search for a full-time replacement.

During his presentation to councilors Nov. 9, Pessemier highly recommended they hire an outside firm to recruit the next city manager, the same process they used to hire him in 2017.

“An internal selection process tends to be clunky, tends not to have the reach to get the best stable of candidates to apply,” Pessemier explained. “It’s really difficult when working with a body of seven people to not trip up along the way and not make prospective candidates look in another direction.”

However, he added, hiring an outside firm will not be cheap. Typically, firms can charge between $20,000 and $25,000.

“This will largely be offset by not paying my salary during that period of time,” Pessemier said. “The good thing about the selection is they usually come with a 2-year warranty. So, if a candidate leaves within a two-year period, they will do another selection for you, free of charge.”

Pessemier presented the City Council with a tight timeline to solicit requests for proposals (RPs) to hire a firm to start the search as soon as possible. The RPs must be in by Dec. 6. The administration will have Dec. 7-13 to evaluate the proposals, with the selection whittled to finalists by Dec. 14. A notice of intent to award the contract is estimated by Dec. 29 with a contract signed by Jan. 6. Pessemier estimates the firm’s contract to find a replacement completed by July 31.

“I have done more than a few hirings of city managers in my time, it’s pretty straight forward, I think it’s a good thing to do,” said Mayor John McArdle, who was first elected in 1998. “The sooner we can get this out on the street, the better.”

McArdle added once Pessemier leaves – his last day with the city is Nov. 28 – the administration needs an interim manager to handle the transition.

“And after consultation with both internal and external folks throughout the region, I’m recommending we appoint Bob Mason with a 5% out of class pay increase,” McArdle said. “He’s indicated he’s willing to do this. And those I’ve spoken to throughout the region think that this is a good choice.”

Pessemier explained the 5% pay increase is a typical amount cities pay administrators taking on extra duties outside their normal scope. He added it would be offset by not paying his own salary after he is gone.

Before the recommendation was unanimously approved, Councilor Dawn Roden questioned whether the police department had the manpower to allow Mason to expand his duties.

“Because last meeting we had, I thought we were two officers out?” Roden asked.

“The short answer would be yes. We can do it,” Mason answered. “We are still two officers down. However, the management team is not nearly affected by that as patrol staff. Our sergeants and myself have covered occasionally. Mostly, we’re still doing our job we’re tasked to do and not cover the road where the vacancies are.”

Next Roden was curious how much more time he thought he’d need as city manager in addition to his chief of police duties.

“That’s a great question. My wife asked the same one,” Mason half joked, drawing laughs. “It’s really hard to say. My guess is three additional days a month if I really manage my time well at the police department.”

Mason explained the IPD has three sergeants that don’t really have any additional structure between he and them, which allows them to accomplish tasks at his management level.

“We share those tasks all the time. Two of the three, the third is off sick, came to me and said, ‘If this creates extra work, don’t worry. We’re going to be here for you. We know it’s a short period of time,’” Mason recalled.

“I have no interest pursuing a career as a city manager,” Mason added. “It’s just keep the lights on, keep the bills paid, keep us on a good path, and find a really good city manager recruit to bring in is kind of the goal.”

McArdle added the city of Independence is in a better situation in its search than other cities in the region due to the administrative team already in place.

“Internally we’re able to do the kinds of things that we need to do. We’ve got an excellent administrator available to us. There are folks interested in our community. I’ve already received some phone calls. This is a good move for us. It allows us to continue to move forward because - by the way there are eight vacancies for city managers in Marion, Yamhill and Polk counties - there is a dearth of interims that would do the kind of job Independence deserves,” he said.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.