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Hermiston city employee loaned to chamber to learn how to manage conference center

The city of Hermiston discussed some staff restructuring Monday
Jade McDowell

East Oregonian

Published on May 9, 2017 1:45PM

Last changed on May 10, 2017 12:00PM

The city of Hermiston has loaned the Greater Hermiston Area Chamber of Commerce one of its employees in exchange for training on how to run the Hermiston Conference Center.

The city council amended its contract with the chamber Monday, creating a transition to when the city’s parks and recreation department takes over management of the center from the chamber on January 1, 2018.

The chamber’s own conference center facilitator recently resigned, and the chamber’s executive board and city staff came to an agreement that for the rest of 2017 a parks and recreation employee will fill the position. The city will not reduce the amount of money it is paying the chamber to run the center, however, in recognition of the valuable training that employee will receive on facilitating events in the building.

Diana Picard, formerly a part-time employee in the parks and recreation department, will take the full-time job.

The staffing move was one of several discussed during a work session before the council’s regular meeting Monday. City manager Byron Smith said as the city has grown and circumstances have changed, the city has become overdue for some restructuring.

Some of those changes will involve new titles and duties (and corresponding salaries), so Smith said he wanted to run them by the council before including them in the upcoming 2017-2018 budget.

The changes will add about $50,000 per year in salary costs, but Smith said the city is netting about $25,000 per year after a recent change to U.S. Bank helped increase interest earnings and reduce fees. He said the city will save another approximately $85,000 per year thanks to a decision to outsource utility bill mailings to a national company.

“Mixing that with the new (remote-read) water meters we’re installing, that’s really going to free up staff to take on some other roles,” he said.

Smith said the city doesn’t really have one dedicated person to handle human resources, and so he would like to reclassify one of the city’s customer service representatives as a human resource specialist after she goes through the needed training.

City finance director Amy Palmer’s title would change to administrative services director and she would take on some new duties such as supervision of the human resources position. Palmer was previously the city recorder as well, but that duty would be transferred to the city’s executive assistant Lilly Alarcon-Strong.

The city’s current part-time accounting technician who spends .25 FTE on city duties and .25 FTE on the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center would be bumped up to a full-time employee spending half of her time as an administrative assistant for public works.

“If it makes us more efficient, and it’s not going to cost us significantly more money, then our job is to set policy and yours is to steer the ship,” mayor David Drotzmann told Smith after council members said they trusted the suggestions.

On Monday during their regular meeting, the council approved changes in parking downtown. The city has already begun restriping parking on Gladys Avenue in front of the Hermiston Public Library to change from parallel parking to diagonal, which will add four more spaces.

On Monday the council agreed to also switch to diagonal parking on the east side of Northeast Second Street between Main Street and Hurlburt Avenue, gaining two extra spaces. That will eventually match the diagonal parking planned for the eastern side of the city’s new festival street between Main and Gladys.

Morgan said business owners along Second Street were excited for the diagonal parking, which will create extra spots, be more welcoming to people who don’t like parallel parking and reduce inefficiencies from long vehicles hanging over into the next spot.

The city had sent out legal notice of a discussion to expand Hermiston’s enterprise zone, which gives certain types of companies a property tax break for capital construction projects that bring new jobs to the city, but the council tabled that discussion until June 12 because Smith said the city is still negotiating with the company in question.


Contact Jade McDowell at or 541-564-4536.


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