Two tries since the first of the year have failed to produce a candidate who left the members of the Rainier City Council feeling like they had found just the right person for the job of city administrator. Two rounds of applications, four rounds of interviews, and hours of deliberation have yet to see a candidate rise to the needs and standards of the community. Not to mention filling the shoes of a city administrator/finance director Debra Dudley.
Dudley went into retirement at the end of 2018, but has stayed on half-time, originally as a transition link to whoever would take her vacated position. Instead, she has served, sometimes from her central Oregon retirement home and sometimes from her old desk at city hall.
“We are lucky not only to still have her services and expertise,” said Mayor Jerry Cole, “but that we have an excellent staff on site and that Debra has a position that can be easily done remotely.”
The next 90 days are critical to local governments, including Rainier. Each must have a budget in place for a fiscal year starting July 1 by June 30.
“We generally have ours done before than and Debra is a critical piece of that process,” said Cole. “Now would be a difficult time for someone new to step in and get oriented to Rainier and develop an operating budget.”
For that reason, he says the council has decided to go with the ad hoc governing model that has been in place since January 1.
“It works well,” he said. “It serves the citizens of Rainier well.”
As to eventually filling the vacant role, Cole says that will wait until summer.
“We are looking at everything,” he said. “We may need to adjust the job description a bit, for instance. Right now, it is all on the table.”
He said while the city is open to receiving unsolicited applications, once the council has come to decisions about the scope of the position and the process for filling it, it will again seek applications and conduct interviews.