Vale council expects to fill city manager position early next year

Vale officials will choose a new city manager early next year. Since July, when former city manager Russ Kirkpatrick resigned, the position has been filled on an interim basis by Katy Lamb. (The Enterprise/File)

VALE – Vale city officials plan to begin interviews early in the new year to fill the vacant city manager position.

So far, the city has just one application, interim city manager Katy Lamb said last week.

The deadline for application is Dec. 31, said Lamb.

Lamb said officials believe the city will receive more applications before the end of the month.

“The last time we did this it was within the last week we got all of them anyway. So, we are expecting a bunch in the next two weeks,” said Lamb.

Lamb was named interim city manager in July, to replace Russ Kirkpatrick, who resigned abruptly for reasons that were unclear.

Lamb said once the application deadline passes, the city will form a hiring committee to review the submissions with the goal of making a final decision in either January or February.

Vale Mayor Mike McLaughlin, whose term expires in January, said he hopes elected leaders find someone with local ties to fill the positon.

“I’d love to see a local person get it – someone who knows Oregon, small towns. But we will hire the best city manager that applies for the positon,” said McLaughlin.

McLaughlin said the city manager slot is a crucial.

“A lot of major decisions are made in conjunction with the council and mayor but day-to-day decisions are made by the city manager. The city manager is very important person to the city of Vale,” said McLaughlin.

Tom Vialpando, who will succeed McLaughlin as mayor, said he wants to consider whether the city manager role should be modified.

“I want to see how we can best support that positon,” he said. “They threw a salary range out there and I want to take a look at the budget and see if we can fit that.”

The posted salary for the position is between $65,000 and $75,000. 

Vialpando said one of the “big things” for a new city manager will be the ability to seek grants.

“Especially now with Covid, there is money out there,” he said.

Vialpando said he wants to ensure the city hires a team player.

“I just don’t want a city manager. I want somebody who will be a team leader,” said Vialpando.

During the past few years, the city manager office had a revolving door of sorts.

In 2018, Alan Daniels was on the job as city manager just over two months when he resigned abruptly. Daniels, the former Ontario Municipal Airport manager, replaced former city manager Lynn Findley. 

The city selected Lamb to be city manager in May 2018. Lamb announced in late 2019 she was to retire. In February, the council hired Kirkpatrick who began work in March.

Kirkpatrick, an Arkansas native, resigned in July.

McLaughlin said the city council asked for Kirkpatrick’s resignation because “we didn’t like the way he treated the public and we didn’t like the way he treated our staff.”

“It was a mistake hiring him for sure,” said McLaughlin.

Previous coverage:

Vale city manager resigns

Vale gets new city manager

Lamb ready for next challenge as Vale city manager

News tip? Contact Pat Caldwell at [email protected].

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