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Longview council OKs reorganization of upper-level employees

By Richard Yeakley
March 13, 2014 at 10 p.m.

The Longview City Council approved a reorganization of the city and promotions of several upper-level city employees Thursday by a 6-1 vote margin.

District 3 Representative Kasha Williams cast the sole dissenting vote against City Manager David Willard's proposal that, among other things, raised former Director of Public Works Keith Bonds to the city's second-in-command post of assistant city manager.

"I was expecting a larger and more diverse - and I will leave you to your definitions of diversity - restructuring process," Williams said. "Sometimes I believe that we need to shake up some things in order to promote and be advocates for real change ... change that continues to promote our community as we move forward, that is indicative of all the people that live in our community."

The City Council considered an ordinance approving the city manager's recommendations for three directors because of the city charter, which requires a vote on all director positions.

The reorganization also promoted Mary Ann Miller, the former assistant to the city manager, to the post of director of administration. She will oversee divisions such as information services and human resources.

Rolin McPhee, the assistant director of public works, will assume Bonds' former position directing the department.

Because the council approved the new directors, and by extension a new city organization that will place the development services, community services and public works departments under the Bond's responsibility, Public Information Officer Shawn Hara will be promoted to the position Miller is leaving and Risk Manager Terri Fields will become the human resources and risk manager.

Williams said that it was important to remember the city is a public entity and not a private corporation.

"We are an entity that functions off of public taxpayer dollars, and I think that we should be cautious in governing ourselves (in another way)," Williams said. "I don't really think that this falls in line with some of the things that we have been discussing along the lines of the Unity and Diversity Committee and the city manager's diversity council."

Mayor Jay Dean said the best employees who best help the city function should be offered the job regardless of any other consideration.

Bonds, who joined the city of Longview staff in 1999 as an engineer, was promoted to interim water planning development director in March 2000, director of water utilities in October 2000 and director of public works in April 2002.

He earns about $119,500. His new proposed salary would be about $132,000.

"I tell everyone that I talk to about Keith that he is one of the most capable directors I have worked with in my executive career," Willard said, while presenting the potential reorganization.

If council approves the proposal, Bonds will leave the Longview Public Works department in the midst of a $52.6 million street bond package passed by voters in 2011.

McPhee joined the city in 2000 and has worked with Bonds since that time. He became the assistant director of public works in March 2009.

Miller began as a library tech with the city in 2001 and has served in the human resources, city attorney and city manager's offices during her tenure. She was promoted to her current role in September 2010.

The reorganization came as a response to two vacancies in city leadership.

Six months ago Karri Hyko retired from her post as director of human resources. A month later Assistant City Manager Chuck Ewings left Longview.

In September, the city began seeking candidates for the human resources post, but ultimately passed on candidates, opting instead to promote from within.

The new organizational structure is expected to save the city about $126,000, Willard said.

The City Council also approved a request to designate the historic Longview depot as a local historic landmark. It is the first structure to receive the local designation.



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