The Montesano City Council approved an ordinance empowering the mayor to change the hours at City Hall as he sees fit in times of emergency.
However, emergency times are left at the mayor’s discretion to really figure out what that means.
City Hall hours have been 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. since the council last amended the municipal code on hours back in 1988. Mayor Ken Estes decided to change those hours to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with workers attending training sessions and doing other activities the first hour of their work day.
City Councilman Tyler Trimble argued that the mayor really had no discretion to set hours, since that was a council action and the mayor had not consulted on the change with the council.
An ordinance brought forth by City Attorney Dan Glenn made it clear that the mayor was able to set hours as he saw fit “on a temporary basis as a result of staffing shortage.” The ordinance was approved on a vote of 5 to 2 with Trimble and Councilman Ken Walkington voting against it.
“This is an administration change,” Walkington said. “If people don’t like the administration, they should make a change at the next election.”
“The public trust of us and public trust of the city has been a question for some time,” Trimble said later. “Our transparency needs to be clear. … I think we need to do a better job of healing.”
City Administrator Kristy Powell noted that a deputy clerk will be on leave for 90 to 120 days and the city doesn’t want to hire a temporary clerk. By closing the office for the first hour of the day, Powell estimated a savings of $7,600.
Montesano resident Teri Zillyett pointed out in public comment that the only way the city would save any money is if they were paying the clerk leaving for those 90 to 120 days. Powell declined to say if the leave was paid or unpaid, citing privacy laws.