Oregon City Council on Monday agreed to move the combined positions of law director and prosecutor into classified services.
Council’s act, which amends the municipal code, creates the position’s pay range, which is consistent with that of the police chief and fire chief.
Oregon Law Director Paul Goldberg and Prosecutor Tom Dugan retired this month after years of service.
Mayor Mike Seferian said he and Administrator Mike Beazley had talked about combining the two positions into one for the last two and a half years.
“It’s another way we chose to consolidate some services within the city. After looking at it for about two and a half years, we thought this might be the best manner in which to proceed,” said Seferian.
Beazley said it was necessary for council to amend the municipal code because it had provided a detailed reference to the way the law director was compensated for base hours and an hourly rate.
“That would simply be replaced by having the law director become part of the classified service,” he said.
“We think that it will work, but obviously, we have to learn as we go,” he said of the new position. The city has merged some positions before, he added, but some did not work out “as well as we had wanted.”
“To achieve our long term effort at structural balance, we are trying some new ways at consolidating, working together better to lower our costs and meet service needs. In meeting with the mayor and talking with departments, we actually think this will upgrade our service and availability,” said Beazley.
While acknowledging that the 60 years of combined experience of Goldberg and Dugan cannot be replaced, merging the positions will be more cost efficient for the city in the long run, said Beazley.
“Whatever we do, as perfect a person the mayor might think of to bring forward, we’ll be bringing in someone with less experience. That’s clear to us. But Dugan, as valuable as he was, was here about two and a half days per week. And now we’re going to have someone here five days per week. And Mr. Goldberg, as he moved toward retirement, has been here an average of about half a day per week. Let’s face that. We think with this consolidation, we’ll be able to lower the long term costs to taxpayers, and at the same time, increase the opportunity for service. If a detective needs someone any day of the week, we’ll have someone here. If anyone in our departments needs someone, we’ll have a law director on the site. There will be someone here and available. We feel it’s an upgrade in service opportunity, even though, by any measure, it’s a step down in experience. We can’t replace that experience right away. That will take time.”
Beazley added that he will make a recommendation to council in January to hire a part-time assistant law director.
“We’ll have someone here who can pinch hit on a day when someone is ill. In addition to that, we’re going to keep an open mind on this as we go. We happen to think this will work well. If it turns out we have a change in circumstance and we have more of a demand on time than we anticipated, we’ll adjust it and bring in an additional part-time prosecutor to help. We think it’s a prudent and responsible step,” he said.
Seferian added that Goldberg and Dugan agreed to assist in the transition if needed.
“If they can help, they’re available,” he said..