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New county planning chief reporting to work on July 1

David Wechner accepted the job as Island County’s new planning head and is expected to report for work beginning next month.

There are, however, a few details remaining before the agreement is formalized, according to Melanie Bacon, director of human resources for the county.

Contract details must be hammered out and approved by the Island County Board of Commissioners, she said.

Wechner also must sign the contract, formalizing his acceptance of the position.

Wechner, currently director of the Josephine County Planning Department in southwestern Oregon, was offered the job by the commissioners in May.

He will replace Bob Pederson, who resigned.

Wechner accepted the job a short time after being offered the position but there have been a few delays in getting the details together, Bacon said.

“He’s accepted the job, but he wants to see a contract” she said.

“It’s not that he’s wavering on anything,” Bacon said.

Wechner declined an interview with the Whidbey News-Times, saying he wants to wait until after a contract is signed.

Bacon said she expects the particulars to be wrapped up Wednesday or by next week at the latest, with the document signed a short time later.

Board Chairwoman Kelly Emerson expressed confidence that the county’s search for a new planning chief is over and that Wechner will report to work as scheduled.

“We feel confident he’ll start July 1,” Emerson during in an interview earlier this month.

While the contract remains unsigned, Wechner’s pay is largely decided. The board offered him the job at the mid-point of the position’s salary range — $81,600.

Pederson’s annual pay was $76,180.

The difference in pay is largely due to a policy change the board adopted earlier this year, according to Bacon.

New hires used to begin at the bottom of the county’s pay range but it was found to be a hinderance in recruiting employees.

Wechner is the first employee to be hired by the county with his experience factored in, Bacon said.

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