People following the Albany City Council’s remote meeting Wednesday night had to wait to the very end — past being “locked out” from an executive session — for something newsworthy to take place.
As allowed by Oregon’s public meetings law, the public was excluded from the executive session to discuss labor negotiations. When it was over, the meeting was electronically “unlocked” and the council quickly and unanimously ratified a two-year contract with the city’s police union.
Council members also approved a request by City Manager Peter Troedsson to reduce his salary 10 percent from now until the end of the year. He said this was in recognition of the coronavirus crisis in which the community finds itself. His current pay is $13,942 per month. The reduction takes it down to $12,548 per month.
Councilor Rich Kellum said the temporary pay cut was not the council’s idea, but the manager “came to us.” Kellum and others said the gesture showed leadership and character.
The police contract covers officers, sergeants, dispatchers and clerks. It runs from this July 1 until June 30, 2022. The union ratified it Monday. It calls for, among other things, a cost of living adjustment of 3 percent the first year and another one, of 2-3 percent based on the CPI, the following year.
This was the third remote session the council has held to comply with the mandate against public meetings during the corona panic. A couple of participants in two public hearings were able to speak and be seen by sitting in front of their own computers.
One of the hearings was on a zone change to allow denser housing at the southeast corner of Waverly and Grand Prairie. Councilor Dick Olsen doesn’t like it and forced a postponement of council approval until the next meeting on May 13.
The other dealt with proposed allocations of federal community development and corona-crisis assistance funds. The upshot: There’s uncertainty about how much will be available when and for whom.
The council heard from Seth Sherry, economic development manager, that the city’s own emergency loan program for small business had made loans averaging $15,000 each to 15 applicants, exhausting the program for now. The next step is to see how much federal aid will become available when. The city has an online survey out to see what Albany businesses need — other than to be allowed to reopen as soon as possible, presumably.
The online meeting had few technical glitches. But some of the participants might work on better lighting, and on placement of their tablets or laptops so their cameras show more of them and less of their ceilings at home. (hh)
The story was edited Thursday morning to add dollar figures to Troedsson’s pay reduction the council approved at the manager’s request.