City council surveys staff morale

Oak Harbor City Council is concerned about morale, transparency and other issues among staff.

To learn more about employee morale, the Oak Harbor City Council is taking the “pulse” of city workers.

Mayor Pro-Tem Beth Munns made the announcement during a Nov. 4 special meeting. The council regularly meets on Tuesdays, but to avoid conflicts with election day, moved this week’s meeting to Wednesday.

“We’ve been concerned with all the employees, staff — everybody — with all the things that have gone on this year and how difficult it’s been to get thoughts and communications across,” Munns said.

She said the council has had concerns about morale, transparency, the quality of staff supervision and the willingness of the council and/or administration to listen to staff.

The council is “just trying to be a sounding board,” she said.

Munns said that the council will send out a survey, along with a pre-stamped envelope, for staff to fill out and send to Grant Weed, city attorney.

No one on the council or with the city will open the surveys, and Weed will compile the results, Munns said.

The council will hopefully have the results by the end of December, she said.

“It’s just to give us a pulse, a measure of how you think things are going, and possible ways that we might be able to improve,” Munns said.

The surveys haven’t been distributed yet. No other council members commented on the upcoming survey during the meeting.

A request for comment sent to Munns went unanswered as of press time.

The city’s Public Information Officer Sabrina Combs said the city is not involved in the creation of the survey.

“This is an exclusive City Council or council member initiated process and the mayor and city leadership were not involved in the process, development or communication of this survey,” Combs said in an email. “The city has no additional information at this time.”

The city has had some personnel turnover this year, and current public works director Cathy Rosen is suing Mayor Bob Severns and City Administrator Blaine Oborn for unethical conduct.

A former city engineer joined her in the lawsuit.

The suit centers on overspending at the city’s sewage treatment plant and alleges retaliation for whistleblowing, hostile work environment, public records law violations and infliction of emotional distress.

Rosen also alleged she was discriminated against because of her gender.

The suit alleges that Oborn treats female employees differently than males and is the reason why the former finance director left this summer.

According to an information sheet on the city’s human resources webpage, the mayor directly oversees the city administrator, city attorney and the police and fire chiefs.

The city administrator supervises the development services director, finance director, human resources director and public works director. There are approximately 130 full time personnel, according to the information sheet.

Munns said the survey is an effort to support employees.

“This is an idea that we had that we’re trying to show we care, we are listening and we want ideas.”