Shady Cove supervisor at center of debate over revised deal

SHADY COVE — Following a volatile City Council meeting last week, City Administrator Danise Brakeman sent a memo to council members asking for a civilized discussion of differences.

"I believe this has hurt the reputation of the city and my professional reputation," Brakeman said.

At issue during the meeting was a renegotiated contract for Brakeman that Councilmen Leith Hayes and Gary Hughes said was "too lucrative."

Brakeman had asked for a renegotiated contract last May after the city's public works director retired and she absorbed many of his responsibilities.

At the mayor's request, Councilmen Bill Kyle and Jim Ulrich consulted an attorney, asking for advice on what changes needed to be made in Brakeman's contract to update her job description and make sure it matched current law. Brakeman did not participate in those talks.

The proposed contract would have increased Brakeman's $60,000 salary by $6,000 a year to cover her added responsibilities, added some vacation time and provided for an annual cost-of-living adjustment.

The contract would also pay her for up to 90 days after leaving the job if she resigns and gives adequate notice.

"I would like it clarified," Brakeman said in her memo. "This was not only NOT my idea, but one that I am opposed to. Although my giving notice does protect the city, it comes at too high a price. I think it is unreasonable and not in the best interest of the city."

The added vacation time was too much, she said, and not necessary.

"I can cash that out if I was to resign, and that can also come at a high price for the city."

She also recommended that the proposed cost-of-living adjustment be removed, and that any salary increase be negotiated within the council.

However, Brakeman said, it is important that legal language to protect the city recommended by the attorney be included in the contract.

"I feel it is equally important for me to be protected from any lawsuits that may occur during or after my employment."

Kyle said he agreed with Brakeman's memo.

"I think she's right. Absolutely right, and I think we can clean this up," Kyle said. "It was the wrong format for how we handled that," he added, referring to the nearly three-hour argument that erupted at last week's meeting, which left the five-member council split 3-2 in favor of the contract and unable to compromise.

Mayor Ron Holthusen said he would prefer a unanimous agreement on the contract and said he hopes the council can agree at its next meeting Dec. 1.

"I'm puzzled by our city administrator's memo," Hayes said. "The mayor asked Danise Brakeman to speak on her own behalf (at the meeting). Why didn't she voice her concerns regarding the contract severance package, the leave bank and the COLA, then?"

Hughes said he wanted to get the issue back into a study session "so we can negotiate a fair contract for the city administrator, put the matter behind us and move forward."

"It is always in the best interest of the community to respectfully work together no matter how difficult the task at hand may be," said Brakeman. "We are all a part of the same team; here to make a difference."

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@live.com.

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