For the first time in recent memory, a tie-breaking vote from Mayor David Drotzmann was necessary to decide which firm the city would hire to find candidates for the city manager position.

Monday at the Hermiston City Council meeting, the vote was tied at 3 between the Waldron firm from Portland and the Prothman firm from Washington state. Drotzmann voted for the Prothman firm because of the company’s experience working with clients in the region.

“Both of these firms would have done a good job, but the Prothman firm has more experience with the way we do things on the east side of the mountains,” Drotzmann said. “We need an eastside representative. We need someone who understands the issues here.”

The next step will be for the city to notify Prothman of its decision and for city officials and firm representatives to discuss in further detail exactly what Hermiston wants to see in the candidates for city manager. Current City Manager Ed Brookshier will retire at the end of 2014 after more than two decades as Hermiston city manager.

The council also decided to proceed with a plan to take over a small portion of building code inspection responsibilities from the State of Oregon.

Because of what Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan described as “exceedingly slow” response times from state inspectors, county officials came up with a plan to speed up the process. The county will officially take over inspection duties but will work with local resources to do the actual inspections.

Hermiston inspectors will only take on territory that is within the “Urban Growth Area” as designated by the city. The rest of the inspections throughout the county will be done by inspectors out of Pendleton. City of Hermiston leaders are hoping that taking over building inspections will help facilitate economic growth from developers who may have shied away from the area if they knew it could take months for an inspector to grant the proper permits. The council agreed unanimously to authorize Brookshier to proceed with the plan.

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