Council questions staff about Interim Public Works Director contract
- Editor’s note: Several blog readers have requested an update on the Interim Public Works Director contract issues, covered here previously. This is the history:
On Oct. 2, 2019, council was informed via e-mail that Public Works Director Chad Bedlington had resigned October 1, 2019, and was on paid administrative leave from Oct. 1st to Oct. 22,
and would assist with the transition during that 3 week period. Click here for that public document.
On October 8, 2019, the public heard for the first time at the Yelm City Council session that City Administrator Michael Grayum was once again the Acting Public Works Director.
[And nothing else stated, no reason for the vacancy, etc., which is when I began inquiring and submitting FOIA requests as to what was occurring. No one on the council asked about this vacancy or the timeline for filling the position] Click here for this blog’s report from back then.
On October 14, 2019, Mayor Foster signed a contract with the Prothman Company for an Interim Public Works Director at $91 an hour plus 3% B&O Tax = $93.73 an hour.
On November 12, 2019, Councilor DePinto asked Mayor Foster on-the-record [start at 1:04] if there was a contract signed with the Prothman Company for an Interim Public Works Director. Almost one month after Mayor Foster signed that contract, did the council hear of this. Was yet another month when the issues with this contract were raised (Dec. 10, 2019) The Yelm Protocol Manual states ONLY the Yelm City Council is authorized to approve all labor contracts plus service contracts over $35,000!
Mayor Foster responded to DePinto that he was within has authority to sign this contract, yet once again, he does so without informing the city council. While the Mayor has the authority to appoint someone to the dept. head position, he does not to approve a service contract, especially one without a finite end date. Only council can grant approval.
Here is the math:
$94 an hour, X 8 hours a day = $750/day,
$750 a day X 5 days a week = $3,750 a week
The maxim authority city administrators have to sign service contracts without council approval = $35,000. The city will have surpassed that prior to 10 weeks, which is at the end of the year. Click here for that public contract.
On December 10, 2019:
Molly Carmody asked if the 2019-2020 budget includes the expenditures the city made for the Interim Public Works Director and the money we’ve spent hiring him?
Finance Director Heidi MacDonald said “It does and it doesn’t because we’re within budget for salary arrangement.” She did not say why it “doesn’t” stay within the budget nor did anyone ask, hmmm.
Mayor Foster said that the Interim Public Works hours were reduced to 35.7 hours per week to stay within the range of the Public Works Director post. That equates to $3,525 per week, so the council must approve anything over $35,000, which will be reached in 10 weeks, or approximately by the end of 2019. The council will therefore, need to be consulted to approve the contract salary in the budget if Yelm has no full time Public Works Director appointed by early January. Why was Interim Finance Director MacDonald not questioned by council on why this would not be included in the budget for salary arrangement.
Joe DePinto asked if the contract was without an end date. Mayor Foster said that was correct and that the pay-scale may need to be amended when the full-time Public Works Director is hired.
Councilor Carmody said she received a letter previously that Mayor Foster indicated the Public Works position would be publicly posted soon. Keep in mind this position has been vacant since October 1st and still has not been open for hiring, hmmm.
Would the council have been made aware of any any of this information by city administrators if this blogger had not written to the council about these issues? From being notified October 2, 2019 to December 9, 2019, over 2 months, the council has not inquired about the salary, infinite contract length, covering the Prothman contract in the budget, and when would the public posting occur to seek a full-time Public Works Director. Gratitude goes to Councilors Carmody and DePinto for raising these important issues.
ONLY the Yelm City Council is authorized to approve all labor contracts plus service contracts over $35,000.
Key Question for Mayor Foster: Why does posting an open Public Works Director position take 3+ months (if you finally post this in January) from the time you knew this post was vacant?