MONMOUTH — Chad Olsen started his stint as interim city manager for Monmouth on Saturday, as former city manager Scott McClure moved to the position in Canby.
The Monmouth City Council unanimously approved a contract in a work session on Oct. 1.
They had approved hiring him during a Sept. 17 work session, at which Olsen was present and answered questions.
Olsen is a retired city manager from Carlton, and also was the city manager for St. Helens and Rainier.
Monmouth Mayor Cec Koontz said she knows Olsen, and he was the only candidate to apply.
Olsen graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in the 1980s and worked in Kent, Ohio, before going to Wyoming and Kansas. He moved to Oregon in 1996, working for Rainier for 11 years and the city of St. Helen’s for less than five years before he moved to Carlton.
Olsen said he has worked on different issues typically involved in city management — water, sewer, storm, parks, cemeteries, marine operations and urban renewal agencies.
He looked at the Monmouth budget, and that it was typical of what he would expect to see for a community the size of Monmouth.
Koontz asked Olsen what about the interim city manager position interested him.
“Being retired is great,” Olsen said. “The interest is just to help provide coverage. I know the mayor. I know the councilor from Rotary, I know Suzanne (Dufner) from past experience.”
He said McClure has done a great job, and there is some comfort there.
“In this case, being selective and picky just to help you bridge the gap,” Olsen said. “It’s not about the money. I do this to help. I’m currently providing code enforcement for Lafayette.
Councilor Byron Shinkle asked Olsen how, as an interim city manager, he can build trust and credibility with staff.
“Primarily, since it’s a short time — sit down, meet with them, make sure I understand what is important to them, understand their budget, their projects and priorities,” Olsen said. “During the interim, it’s to provide support to them the best I can.”
Olsen said it is hard to build a lot of trust during a “short-term gig.”
Councilor Jon Carey asked Olsen how he planned to “get anything” out of staff, considering he is an interim.
“Potlucks,” Olsen laughed. “It’s a good question.”
He said in St. Helen’s they did potlucks.
“We did employee engagement processes,” he said. “It’s especially tough when you have bargaining units that every two or three years, you feel like you’ve been really good friends leading up to that and all of a sudden …”
“… You don’t respect them anymore,” Carey finished Olsen sentence.
Olsen said they had an employee recognition program.
“Potlucks, barbecues, annual recognition awards dinner-type of thing where we’d go out and try to have fun,” Olsen said. “Just different things to try to get all of your staff together to know each other and to have some fellowship to some degree.”
He said an easy answer would be to just have meetings, but typically those only include the manager and department heads.
Olsen said it is important for city staff to stay on top of their goals during the interim.
“(We) don’t want it to stop for six months,” he said. “At the end of six months the new person is still going to take (time) to catch up. I trust Scott and what he’s done setting up the organization. If you hired nobody, your department heads probably could carry through the next four to six months.”
Olsen will be paid a monthly base salary of $10,500, a $350 vehicle allowance in lieu of personal vehicle mileage and $85 cellphone allowance.
He will not be eligible for PERS or fringe benefits, and will not be a candidate for permanent employment as city manager.
Since the Oct. 1 city council meeting went until almost 10 p.m., councilors will discuss the recruitment for a permanent city manager at a future meeting.