Newport: City Council extends a helping hand to City Manager Jim Voetberg – Plan to improve and set goals
After a lengthy Executive Session Monday afternoon, the Newport City Council emerged to announce that they are setting up a subcommittee of the council to develop a proposed plan to improve city council relations with City Manager Jim Voetberg. The three councilors will help the rest of the council to outline clearer performance standards for Mr. Voetberg and goals for the city. The original agenda heading for the Executive Session referred to “Discipline of a Public Officer.” Although this may appear to be an overly simplified description of the issue, state law forbids any public disclosure of any details of executive session discussions.
After the executive session was over and the council returned to open public “Workshop” mode, the council also asked city staff to develop a separate city fund to provide money to settle minor claims or minor lawsuit settlements against the city, which would be under control of the city manager, but with some residual city council oversight up to a certain amount – $25,000 was floated as a limit. Anything beyond that would be within the sole purview of the city council. The city attorney said the city charter already makes provisions for such actions though not specifically referencing a specific fund. The city attorney said that such authority falls generally under the city manager’s responsibility in dealing with hiring, firing and other personnel items as well as claims against the city.