By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT ANGELES — Port of Port Angeles commissioners have a full agenda at their regular meeting today.
They will review the preliminary results of early audits of agency practices and 2012 finances, and will review a contract that would change Ken O'Hollaren's status from interim to full-time executive director.
The meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the port administrative office building, 338 W. First St., Port Angeles.
O'Hollaren, whose pay would change from $100 an hour to $145,000 a year, said Monday that he never intended to apply for the permanent position when he was hired in August to take over temporarily following former Executive Director Jeff Robb.
He approached all three commissioners about filling the position, which commissioners never advertised.
“It was an evolution of thoughts,” O'Hollaren said of his change of heart.
“What changed my mind was a combination of the community and the organization here.
“The desirability of the whole area caused my wife and I to give it some hard thought, and we wanted to pursue the opportunity.
“I didn't see that coming back in August.”
O'Hollaren, 58, retired in December 2012 as Port of Longview executive director, a job that paid him $160,000 annually.
His wife, Denise, is a Cowlitz County Superior Court clerk. They have two grown children.
O'Hollaren's interim position with the Port of Port Angeles was his first temporary executive-director position since he retired and began in August.
Robb had resigned two months earlier following a lease-related whistle-blower complaint and a subsequent scathing internal report on his tenure as the port's top administrator and highest paid employee at $138,000 a year.
Robb was rehired at the same salary to the newly created, unadvertised position of environmental affairs director after saying in a prepared statement that he and the commissioners had “agreed” that he would take the position when no such agreement was reached in public, a potential violation of the state Open Public Meetings Act.
Citizen concerns about the circumstances surrounding Robb's resignation and rehiring prompted the early audit of port practices, state Auditor's Office spokesmen have said in earlier interviews.
The citizen complaints may be addressed today, Karen Goschen, port director of finance, said Monday.
The audits so far have cost the port $55,222, Goschen said.
She said there may be a finding in the audit related to port leases.
“The port has an opportunity to respond, and [the Auditor's Office] will look at our response and make their final determination,” Goschen said.
The whistle-blower complaint, filed by then-port Director of Business Development Colleen McAleer, who is now a commissioner, described a lack of uniformity in rates that O'Hollaren said Monday he and port staff have been addressing.
“There are some issues with some leases,” he said.
Today's 9:15 a.m. audit presentation by Mike Riley, state auditor in charge, and Carol Ehlinger, the agency's Team Port Orchard program manager and assistant manager for the audit, will be followed later in the meeting with a discussion of O'Hollaren's proposed contract.
O'Hollaren would oversee a $7.2 million operating budget for 2014 and supervise 52 employees.
He has been working a 32-hour-to-35-hour workweek and getting paid $100 an hour through the Seattle executive search firm Waldron.
If he is hired to the permanent position, O'Hollaren said he expects initially to work “pretty close” to 40 hours a week.
Port Commission Vice President John Calhoun, who said O'Hollaren's salary would be in line with other port executive directors in Washington, said commissioners could approve the contract at the board's March 12 meeting.
Upon being hired, O'Hollaren immediately would receive six weeks of vacation and would receive six weeks in successive years, Calhoun said.
The draft contract says that on the first anniversary of the beginning of O'Hollaren's employment, his vacation leave “shall accrue at the rate of six weeks per year.”
“Our intention is not to lock in additional leave at the beginning,” Calhoun said.
“These are details we want to have time to work out over the next couple weeks.”
O'Hollaren also would receive a $750 monthly rental-housing allowance for up to six months, up to $10,000 to cover relocation expenses, and the IRS reimbursement rate of 56 cents a mile to make the 370-mile round-trip on weekends to Longview and back.
The couple has done some “very preliminary house hunting” but need to sell their home in Longview before permanently moving to the North Olympic Peninsula, O'Hollaren said.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at email@example.com.