Council mulls new administrative position

Oak Harbor City Council members have mixed feelings about a proposal from Blaine Oborn.

Oak Harbor City Council members have mixed feelings about a proposal from City Administrator Blaine Oborn to add a new administrative position to the city staff.

During a council workshop Sept. 27, Oborn floated the idea of creating the optional position of deputy city administrator, to be filled first by current Finance Director David Goldman.

Oborn said the flexible position would save the city money and help things run more efficiently, as well as help Oak Harbor transition away from a small-city mindset.

The parameters of the position could be adjusted in the future to meet the changing needs of the city, but Oborn proposed Goldman fill it first following the retirement of Development Director David Kuhl. Oborn said that as deputy administrator, Goldman would take over the development department in addition to his duties as finance director and fill in for Oborn when the latter is not available.

Councilmember Shane Hoffmire was quick to voice his support for the idea on Goldman’s merit.

“I can’t say enough good things about our finance director,” Hoffmire said.

Other council members had some reservations about the proposal.

Councilmember Bryan Stucky questioned whether the new position would ultimately save the city any money in the long run. He said he was cautious about the idea because of the long-term viability of the position, not about the individual.

“We’re lucky to have a proverbial municipal Swiss army knife of skills in you,” Stucky told Goldman.

Goldman has been serving as city finance director since 2020 but got his start in development. For this reason, Oborn said, he believes Goldman would succeed in the position.

“This is really not a funding issue, it just really makes sense to utilize his expertise,” Oborn said.

Councilmember Tara Hizon, however, was worried about overexerting such a valuable city staff member. Between directing the finance and development departments and fulfilling other deputy administrator responsibilities, Goldman would be effectively working three full-time jobs, Hizon worried.

“What I don’t want is to take such a valuable asset and spread him so thin that he gets burnt out,” she said.

Oborn said that other department members would step up into managerial positions and take on some of the responsibilities that currently fall to the department directors. This would facilitate upward mobility within the city and assist with “succession planning,” he said.

Councilmembers Beth Munns and Chris Wiegenstein said the decision should wait until after the election, in case of turnover among the city elected officials.

Hoffmire agreed there would be no harm in waiting until the first of the year to revisit the proposal.

The city council would have to pass an ordinance to create this position. Council members took no action at the Sept. 27 meeting, and Wiegenstein requested Oborn come to a future workshop meeting with more details.