The Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center board will start recruiting a general manager after getting a consensus from the Hermiston City Council and Umatilla County Commission.
The position will pay $70,000 to $85,000 per year and will supervise an administrative assistant and maintenance/operations position.
“We need to get good management,” commissioner Larry Givens said. “It’s got to be done, and we need to do it as soon as possible.”
The council and commission discussed the plan during a joint meeting Thursday night. The EOTEC board had previously asked the two partners in the project to approve a similar plan, but they asked for salary figures before they were willing to sign off on it.
Byron Smith, EOTEC chair, said the Pendleton Convention Center’s new manager, Pat Beard, will make around $80,000. The manager for the TRAC facility in the Tri-Cities makes $84,000 to $113,000, while the Linn County Expo Center manager makes $71,000 to $90,000 per year.
Smith said at $80,000 per year (plus $50,000 for the maintenance position and $40,000 for the administrative assistant) the city and council would each need to chip in $75,000 next year for operations, compared with $45,000 this year. He said that’s based on a conservative estimate for revenue so it could end up being less if, like this year, the center exceeded revenue projections.
Smith said those numbers only included salary, not benefits, but EOTEC is not a PERS employer and does not offer health insurance so benefit costs are low.
City councilor John Kirwan said he liked the idea of basing a part of the general manager’s salary on a commission or bonus system tied to how much revenue EOTEC makes each year. Other councilors and commissioners agreed.
Smith said it would be tricky to find the right formula between base salary and incentive, but it was something the EOTEC board could come up with.
Mayor David Drotzmann said he was concerned it would be difficult to recruit a quality manager without offering health insurance as a benefit. Smith said he had already begun looking into if it was possible to add the manager to the city’s health insurance or find another reasonable option.
During the public comment section prior to Smith’s presentation, several neighbors testified they were still seeing problems generated by EOTEC in their neighborhood.
Richard Meisner questioned the city’s decision to lease water rights from a Stanfield Irrigation customer and said he was concerned it would negatively affect neighbors’ ability to get the irrigation water they needed. Other neighbors brought up the thumping bass noise they said they can hear until midnight during events, and that people often leave the event driving recklessly.
“People coming from these facilities are drinking and driving, no doubt in my mind,” Chris Waine said.
Commissioner Bill Elfering said he would discuss the need for extra patrols after events with Sheriff Terry Rowan, who was present at the meeting, and EOTEC business manager Heather Cannell said she would begin sending event information to the sheriff’s office so they would know when large parties were finishing up at EOTEC.
The meeting ended with a tour of the fair and rodeo grounds, which are nearing the home stretch of construction with a goal of being completed in July.
Contact Jade McDowell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4536.