Port Townsend’s first full-time city clerk to step down; deputy assumes post Tuesday
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Joanna Sanders, left, will take over the Port Townsend city clerk’s position from Pam Kolacy on July 1. — Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend City Clerk Pam Kolacy will relinquish the job to her deputy, Joanna Sanders, on Tuesday.

Kolacy, 68, will move out of her office in the administration office and relocate to historic City Hall, where she will work in the human resources department until her retirement in January.

Sanders, 52, will become only the second full-time city clerk in Port Townsend’s history. Prior to Kolacy’s hiring, the position was a clerk/treasurer combination.

Clerks generally have a long tenure since their skills are specialized and tailored to the individual community, both workers said.

“The city clerk position is a very unsung position, although not necessarily unappreciated,” Kolacy said.

“People don’t know how much there is to it and how important it is for the fabric of city operation.”

In simplest terms, the job of the clerk is to keep the city’s records and make them accessible.

“We need to make sure what happens in the city is transparent, that we can find all the records and make them easily available to the public,” Kolacy said.

That job has grown over the years, she said, with increases in both the use of technology and an interest in public records.

“Since I started, the volume of records has gone up exponentially, and their storage has changed due to technology,” she said.

“Building permits used to be written on a cocktail napkin.”

The city provides online video of council meetings dating back to April 2009 at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-PT-meetings.

Once a meeting is concluded, the clerk on duty immediately posts it to the website so the public can view the proceedings.

“We used to take notes and record the meeting on a cassette tape,” Kolacy said.

“Now it’s like running an airplane. You need to make sure the cameras are all on and the sound is working.”

Technology always provides a challenge, but it is ultimately easier for the staff and the public, Sanders said.

“You no longer have to be here at 6:30 on a Monday night to know what’s going on,” she said.

“You can watch later in the week or even years later if you need to have background about an issue that interests you or need to do some research.”

Kolacy, as the first clerk, shed the treasurer responsibilities. Sanders is also stepping into a streamlined position, which no longer includes human resources duties.

The city clerk has previously served as a department head as a direct report to the city manager and was also responsible for human resources.

In the new model, the clerk will continue to report to the city manager while the human resources manager will report to the financial services director.

Part of Kolacy’s pre-retirement mission will be to find a full-time human resources manager.

Sanders currently earns $60,492, which will be raised to $63,872 on Tuesday.

Kolacy will continue to receive $90,420.

The clerk’s salary will be reviewed as part of a compensation study to take place in 2015.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 25. 2014 7:37PM
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