Oak Harbor City Council OKs executive assistant’s $65,000 contract

The executive assistant to the mayor is the latest administrative employee at the city of Oak Harbor to receive an employment contract.

And for the first time, a city council member expressed concern about the salary of an administrative official.

Nonetheless, the council unanimously adopted the contract.

Renee Recker has served as executive assistant to the mayor since 2005. She was hired by former Mayor Patty Cohen.

Under the new contract, Recker will continue to earn a salary of $65,000 a year. With benefits, her compensation package is worth $86,000 per year.

In contrast, the Oak Harbor mayor earns about $51,000 a year.

During last week’s meeting, Oak Harbor Councilwoman Beth Munns said that she was “a little taken aback” by the amount of the executive assistant’s salary.

“Generally, for that position anywhere else in the city, it’s a little high,” she said.

Councilman Rick Almberg, however, pointed out that the contract puts in writing the salary Recker already receives, plus it gives her a severance package worth one month’s compensation.

Other council members said the job description is too vague and asked whether Recker could also assist the city administrator.

City leaders decided not to hire a new assistant to the city administrator as a cost-cutting measure.

City Administrator Larry Cort said Recker already took on that role and is a great help.

Recker’s salary is a little higher than average, according to salary data from the Association of Washington Cities.

Among cities with populations of 15,000 to 29,999, the city of Oak Harbor’s compensation is above the “average high salary” for executive secretaries.

Average high salary is $5,310 a month, or $63,720 per year; Recker’s salary is $5,416 a month.

Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley said he has no problem with the fact that Recker earns more than him, especially since he works part-time as mayor.

Dudley said he is pleased that the contract was approved.

He said he was alarmed when he took office to learn that most of the administrative employees were working without contracts.

The situation was largely rectified over the past year as administrative officials entered into contracts with the city.

Dudley said the contracts cemented their at-will status, which means they serve at the will of the mayor and he can fire them without cause.

According to Dudley, Public Works Director Cathy Rosen remains the only administrative employee without a contract.

The council amended the city’s personnel code to make Rosen a “for-cause” employee, which would protect her from being fired by the mayor.

The council also tried to make the former police chief a for-cause employee, but Dudley fired him before the code could be revised.


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