Camas to hire spokesperson

Council considers responsibilities, salary for communications position

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Camas city leaders are preparing to move ahead with the hiring of a communications manager.

At a city council workshop Monday evening, the city’s director of administrative services, Jennifer Gorsuch, presented the city council and Mayor Barry McDonnell with an overview of the position.

“The position has been discussed informally during previous council workshops and was added to the 2020 budget during the recent re-adoption (of the budget) at the request of former Mayor (Shannon) Turk and with the concurrence of council,” Gorsuch said in her staff report.

She added that, although the city currently contracts with a consultant to provide some of the communications services included in the job description for the communications manager, “the needs of the city are greater than what is currently provided, and having a full-time position on staff would greatly increase communication to/from the city and citizens.”

The proposed monthly salary scale for the new position starts at $6,723 ($80,676 per year) and goes up to $8,067 ($96,804 per year). The communications hire will not yet oversee any staff members.

The city’s initial job objective for the position states that, “the individual in this position functions as the city’s spokesperson, develops and implements communication strategies consistent with city goals and objectives and manages the city’s external communication via the city’s website and other technologies, its social media platforms and through positive relationships with local news outlets. In addition, this position provides executive-level assistance in support of the city administrator.”

“I’m really excited we’re going to go ahead with (this) position,” Councilwoman Ellen Burton said Monday. “Communication has moved up to such a higher level that we need to be on top of it, too.”

Burton added that she felt the new hire should be at a high enough level that they would have a “seat at the table” on all city matters so they could become an expert in city-level issues and be the “go-to person” for engaging with the public and key stakeholders for the city of Camas.

Councilmembers Melissa Smith and Don Chaney had questions about the salary range, and Chaney pointed out that the city’s range was 20 percent higher than a similar position in Battle Ground, and added he would like Camas to “stay in the market and be comparable.”

“I kind of question the salary range, too,” Smith said. “We don’t know how fast and furious it’s going to be. Maybe we start at mid-level with the potential to go to a senior level as the workload increases.”

Councilman Steve Hogan and new Councilwoman Shannon Roberts said they were OK with the salary range.

“If you (want to) get top talent, you want to pay them a top talent (salary),” Roberts said.

“My feeling is that this is a high priority,” Hogan said. “We might have to pay a little more than we expected, but we have to get the right talent. This is critical to us.”

McDonnell said he wanted the new hire to be at a senior level that would allow them to be a part of the city’s department-head meetings. He added that adding a communications manager to the city’s staff was “great timing” as the city is in the process of redesigning its website.

“They can help guide that process along the way,” McDonnell said of the new staff position.

Burton wondered if the council should wait to hire for the position until after the city had found a new city administrator. The city just started its search for a replacement for City Administrator Pete Capell, who announced his retirement in December.

“Any considerations to waiting so they can hire someone?” Burton asked, referring to the future city administrator.

“I think we can hire without waiting,” McDonnell said. “I wouldn’t say we need to wait.”

Gorsuch said she will have staff review more salary comparables to “make sure we’re in the right zone” and bring a revised job description and salary range back to the city councilors at their Jan. 21 workshop for a possible vote at the Jan. 21 regular council meeting.