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Cascade Locks re-starts search for city administrator

August 20, 2011

It's back to square one again as Cascade Locks enters its second month without a city administrator .

After asking more money than the city offered, Eric Strahl is no longer under consideration, according to Mayor George Fischer.

Strahl, of Menominee, Mich., had been offered the job in late July after he and one other candidate, Neil Obringer of Albany, interviewed for the job.

In a special meeting on Aug. 15, City Council gave Fischer the authority to hire an interim administrator.

"I'm working on that currently," Fischer said.

The previous interim administrator, Rich Carson, finished his four-month (corrected from the print edition) contract in early July. He was hired in February after the departure of former administrator Bernard Seeger.

The city was scheduled to adopt a contract with Strahl for an annual salary of $70,000, but Strahl had asked for more money and moving expenses. He had notified the city by email on Aug. 5 of his requests, and the contract item was removed from the council's Aug. 8 meeting.

"He's no longer in consideration," Fischer said Thursday. "We couldn't afford more money."

Strahl said in a telephone interview Wednesday that his request was money-related issues and not motivated by the pending recall against Fischer and four council members.

"It really didn't impact it much one way or another," Strahl said of the recall effort, adding that in situations such as a pending recall, it is standard procedure to include a contract clause protecting a newly hired administrator in case lead elected officials are removed from office.

Fischer along with Kevin Benson, Don Haight, Lance Masters, and Tiffany Pruit are named in a recall that Cascade Locks voters will consider on Sept. 20.

"What you always try and do if you're going to run into a situation like that is address those situations one way or another in an employment agreement," Strahl said. "If you can do that, it's not as big an issue as it would appear to be.

"You never know if something like that would happen and who you'd be working with after that point," he said. "It's hard to say how much of an impact it would have because you don't know much about the four individuals."

Strahl said his decision to ask for changes in the proposed contract were due to "the salary offer, given the cost of living difference between city of Menominee and Cascade Locks and whether I'd have to be picking up moving expenses. Two of those things made it impossible for me to accept (the contract as offered)."

An article in the Aug. 17 Hood River News stated Strahl had withdrawn his name; Strahl had been unavailable for comment for that article.

When Strahl was contacted on Aug. 17 he said he had not taken himself out of the running, and had not heard back from the city after his Aug. 5 request for changes in the contract.

Fischer said Thursday that "we have sent him a letter" informing Strahl he is no longer a candidate.

Strahl said that in his email to the city, "I said I realize the budget situation the city of Cascade Locks is facing, something municipalities across the country are having to deal with, and it may be more appropriate to look for someone in-state than out-of-state."

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