Tag Archives: Bill Haack

An Opinion: It was Time for a Change at City Hall

On Tuesday December 11, 2013 the Vernonia City Council voted to fire City Administrator Bill Haack.  This somewhat surprising news caught most citizens off guard.  While some locals greeted the news  with open arms, others were shocked by this seemingly sudden decision.

Although unexpected, the dismissal of Haack by the Vernonia City Council was not sudden and was the right move for the City.

Haack’s three-and-a-half years as Vernonia City Administrator have certainly been tumultuous.
He has been an enigma in many ways, popular and capable, yet often difficult to understand and work with.  In the end, it was this difficult-to-work-with component of his persona that led to his falling out with the City Council.

I can’t discuss all the details that went into Council’s decision to fire Haack, as this is a private personnel issue.  All of the discussion by Council took place in several closed Executive Sessions.  But it was obvious in recent public meetings that  Council was growing unhappy with Haack’s administrative style.  Trouble was already brewing during the budget process last spring, as Council and Haack grappled over management of  tight finances.  Haack’s manner and communication style were grating on some members of  Council.  It all came to a head when the Council expressed displeasure with the project management on the Wastewater Upgrade Project and decided it was time for a change of direction at City Hall. Read More

City Council Fires City Administrator

The Vernonia City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to terminate without cause their contract with City Administrator Bill Haack.

The vote came following a Special Executive Session on December 10, 2013 at City Hall.

The City of Vernonia released the following statement on Wednesday December 11, 2013: “On Tuesday, December 10th, 2013, at a Special Meeting of the Vernonia City Council, the City Council held an executive session to consider discipline or dismissal of City Administrator Bill Haack. Council returned to open session where a motion was made and passed unanimously to terminate without cause City Administrator Bill Haack.”

Terms of Haack’s dismissal were not immediately available. Read More

City Administrator Report

WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT PROJECT

WWTP ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

DEQ provided a short assessment of the EA.  Their comments are under review by Pacific Habitat Services and Tetra Tech.  Otak will coordinate a response in the form of a Technical Memo to EPA and DEQ.

BIOSOLIDS REMOVAL PLAN 

The City submitted the Biosolids Management Plan to DEQ on Friday 9-6-13.  DEQ accepted the document on Monday 9-9-13 and intends to release for comment by 9-12/3-13.  The 30 day comment period ends 10-14/5-13.  This coincides with the date that land application without DEQ further approval ends (10-15-13).  The City will meet with CWS this week to look at an alternative site in Sherman/Wasco County to determine whether that site may be added to our plan.  DEQ will require evidence that the City has used best practices to accept the Polk site – that include regular review of rain data and long term forecasts provided by NOAA and other sources.  If rain forecasts are favorable we may be allowed to land apply to 11-15-13.

The City issued a contract for building a staging area to Lyda Excavating on Monday 9-9-13.  The staging area contract is for about $21,000.  The contract will move nominally 1,000 cubic yards of rock now in storage atop the surcharge are near the headworks.

The City received no proposals for biosolids removal.  Jon Forrester will contact the three firms that we had identified to determine how to fit this project into their schedule this year.  In addition, Otak will discuss other options with DEQ. Read More

Kay Files Civil Action Lawsuit

A Civil Action Lawsuit has been filed in United States District Court in the District of Oregon by plaintiff Michael Kay, naming Vernonia City Administrator William Haack, Vernonia Police Chief Michael Conner,  the City of Vernonia,  and others as defendants.

Summons to appear have been served and were received by the City of Vernonia on August 27, 2013.  The Presiding Judge is listed as the Honorable Paul Papek

The additional defendants named are Theresa King, an investigator for the Oregon Department of  Professional Standards and Training (DPSST); Dian Rubanoff, an attorney hired by the City of Vernonia to investigate Kay,  former Vernonia Police Chief Matthew Workman, and Columbia County Justice of the Peace Wallace Thompson.

Michael Kay was employed by the City of Vernonia for nine years as a police officer, Sergeant, acting Chief and Captain.  He was terminated by the City in 2011 following several investigations into his conduct.  He was later decertified by DPSST for ethics violations.  In 2013 he lost an employment arbitration hearing that reviewed his termination. Read More

City Administrator Report

WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT PROJECT

WWTP COST ESTIMATE

The Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) facility improvements project cost estimate is adjusted up to $6.3 million. The Flume Improvement Project is complete with final costs at about $300,000, including $275,524 for Lyda Excavating, $10,431 for Otak for design and construction management, $5,425 KLS Surveying and $8,065 Shannon and Wilson for geotechnical reports and testing.  This is well below the engineers cost estimate for construction.  The estimate for biosolids removal is between $800,000 and $1.2 million depending on where materials are hauled – Polk County or Sherman/Wasco County (See Biosolids discussion below).   The estimate for the construction of the pipe gallery, dike elevation and additional constructed improvements remains as estimated in the August 2012 Predesign report – $4.52 million – this will be adjusted by the end of the calendar year prior to going out to bid.  The City Engineer and City staff direct construction management and over sight expenses will be added to the total cost through 2015.

WWTP ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

Pacific Habitat Services (PHS) successfully facilitated the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) accepted Tetra Tech’s TM (technical memorandum) on the operations protocol for operating the hyporheic infiltration allows for their concurrence that the Biological Opinion developed PHS is acceptable.  The PHS Environmental Assessment and Biological Assessment are now presented to DEQ for their review under their State Environmental Review Process (See http://www.deq.state.or.us/wq/loans/docs/SERPApplicantGuide.pdf).  This process meets Oregon Clean Water State Revolving Fund guidelines established to meet EPA NEPA standards. Read More

City Administrators Report

WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT PROJECT

 

WWTP FINANCING PLAN

The City will plan to develop a new ordinance and resolution to allow the new rate to be used in the billing mailed out in September 2013.  The City Administrator continues to work with USDA Rural Utility Service (RUS) to pursue financing under the Wastewater Loan and Grant program.   It is anticipated that the USDA loan and grant will be available by late Spring 2014.  Until that date the WWTP will continue to use the open DEQ CWSRF loan.  It is anticipated that all of the DEQ loan that has been accessed beginning in June 2013 will be refinanced by the USDA loan and grant next year.

 

HEADWORKS PARSHALL FLUME & RELATED IMPROVEMENTS

Lyda Excavating is near completion of the Flume Improvement Project.   The Parshall Flume is installed and we are scheduling the calibration of the new facility.  Final costs with change orders will be calculated based on KLS survey to determine amount of materials that were added because a deeper cut was required per the geotechnical engineer instructions and the City Engineer’s direction.   The project will be completed ahead of schedule, and under engineers estimate. Read More

City Administrator Report

WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT PROJECT

 

WWTP COST ESTIMATE

The Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) facility improvements project cost estimate is within a $5.25 to $6.0 million range. We have however used $5.8 million in the FCS Group wastewater rate study, which is high center in the above range.   Additionally, we are assessing breaking the dike elevation project out of the new construction project, to allow for the elevation to take place this fall as a flood protection effort.  DEQ has determined that this is allowable as an expansion of the original project and as governed by the environmental completed in 2005.

 

WWTP FINANCING PLAN

City Council conducted a WWTP Financing Plan works session on June 10, 2013.  We reviewed both the FCS Group rate study and other budget analysis.  Council directed staff to prepare an agenda item on the financing plan based on this discussion for the June 17, 2013 city council meeting. Pursuing USDA financing will require a Public Hearing following USDA RUS §1780.19 Public Information.  The USDA Application has 249 component parts on the checklist; we are working on the required first 10 items.   Read More

City Administrators Report April 15, 2013

WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT PROJECT

WWTP PROJECT UPDATE

The City provided information on the WWTP project at the Vernonia School District April 17, 2013 Town Hall meeting.  Handouts were available on the elements of the project, the project schedule, and the budget and financing plans now under review.

WWTP COST ESTIMATE

The Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) facility improvements project cost estimate is unchanged, with total project cost established within a $5.25 to $6.0 million range.  Otak provided the State with an engineer’s estimate for the Biosolids removal and Flume Improvement projects of $800,000 and $305,000 respectively.  This is a minor reduction in the estimate that we used to date (- $45,000).  The new construction hyporheic discharge WWTP facility improvements are estimated at $4.5 million.  There are various other construction management, materials testing, and project administration costs that need to be firmed up.  Read More

Vernonia City Administrators Report, April 1, 2013

WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT PROJECT

WWTP ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

The City of Vernonia along with development team members from Otak, Tetra Tech, Pacific Habitat Services and Shannon and Wilson, are working closely together to provide NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) with temperature and ammonia modeling for the hyporheic discharge design now under DEQ review.  The NMFS is only one of the cross cutting federal environmental hurdles that need to be cleared in the submittal to EPA, but is clearly the one that may be problematic.  Otak is working to satisfy Pacific Habitat need for temperature data by Friday March 29, 2013.  DEQ and EPA are negotiating with NMFS on the required ammonia modeling.

OTHER PUBLIC WORKS ACTIVITY

SDC FEE SCHEDULE

The Public Works Committee will review a proposal from Dan Heffernan Company to update specific elements of the city SDC schedule to align the fee charged with the Master capital Plan.  I will bring this to the committee after the Council adopts the Master Capital Plan. Read More

Vernonia City News-City Administrator Report

WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT PROJECT

WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT COST ESTIMATE

The wastewater treatment plant cost estimate is still rough, but is in the range of $5.25 to $6.0 million.  As discussed at the joint Public Works Committee and City Council work session, the cost of the project is composed of three parts: (1) Flume Improvements – $300,000 to $350,000 which includes Otak engineering project management and DEQ fee, (2) Biosolids Removal, $600,000 to $800,000, and (3) WWTP Construction and overall Project/Construction Management, $4,500,000.  There will be additional costs for testing and monitoring (e.g. Shannon and Wilson geotechnical, and Pacific Habitat for wetland and erosion).  There will also be project management costs that will include Otak project management and City staff clerking the draws, maintaining records and writing reports.  Using City staff will be a least cost approach rather than using staff of the city engineering firm. Read More