The discourse was particularly energized at Monday’s Albany City Council work session.
The panel approved a 2 percent raise for City Manager Wes Hare and discussed using up to about $90,000 of motel room tax money to fund a marketing/sales person charged with drawing large, multiday events to the Linn County Fair & Expo Center.
Below are some follow-up notes and quotes:
• City Councilor Rich Kellum wrote to the paper Tuesday to explain why no county commissioners were on hand Monday, something fellow Councilor Bill Coburn had wondered aloud about at the meeting.
Will Tucker and John Lindsey were at a different meeting, Kellum said; Kellum added that the third commissioner, Roger Nyquist, had asked him and two other councilors if he should attend Monday’s work session, and no one replied.
• Councilor Ray Kopczynski, on the proposed city/county partnership on the marketing position: “The potential I think is great. I want them to commit on paper that they’re going to commit, something in writing, not a handshake and a nod. If this program actually works, it’s going to pay for itself.”
• Councilor Floyd Collins called the expo center “an asset that’s not being fully utilized.
“Worst-case scenario, this is a loss leader,” he said of the sales position.
During a heated portion of the debate, Collins was a voice of calm:
“We need to refocus. We need to not be insulting of other people or insulting of the process. My objective is to make that the very best facility we can so everybody benefits. It’s not just a county asset, it’s a community asset.”
• Councilor Dick Olsen: “Why don’t we hire somebody part time to work with our own AVA (Albany Visitors Association)? That way it can be our position and not some kind of remote control.”
• Councilor Coburn: “This is well thought out but my concern is we don’t know if the county is even interested. All we have is what Rich has said.”
Regarding the city manager, whose base salary is $11,203 per month after his first raise since 2009 (he voluntarily went without pay increases in the other years), Collins presented a list of objectives he’d like to see Hare tackle.
The objectives include:
• Presenting voters with the council’s policy decision regarding new police and fire stations;
• Developing policymaker-level work groups made up of people from various taxing entities;
• Reviewing land use timelines and processes;
• Assisting with a revision of how lodging tax dollars are distributed.
Hare received praise from the council for his performance in general, and Kopczynski noted Hare’s even temperament and measured demeanor despite the heat he takes.
“It isn’t my job to pick fights as a rule and it really isn’t much in my nature to want to get into exchanging barbs with people,” Hare said. “I think it is part of my responsibility to correct what I know to be misinformation in a public setting, and I’ll continue to try to do that in a polite way.
“A lot of things we do as a city do not make people happy,” Hare said. “They’re receiving tickets, they’re getting citations. But a lot of times, people just want to be heard. Some of our biggest critics have become some of our best volunteers, and it’s not the city manager’s job to get in the way of that.”