Requests overburden current staff
A recent increase in requests for public documents will lead to an extra employee at town hall.
Coulee Dam’s town council approved the hiring of a “records management” person at its meeting last Wednesday night.
Town Clerk Carol Visker asked council members to approve the new position, which will bring the city hall staff to three full-time employees.
Visker stated that she plans to meet with the council’s personnel committee, made up of members Bob Poch and Ken Miles, soon to determine that position’s job description, required qualifications and salary.
“I am hopeful that we can have the person aboard sometime this spring,” Visker stated late last week.
While it wasn’t mentioned as such at the meeting, The Star learned that the position was prompted by the frequent requests for town documents by resident Greg Wilder.
The town and Wilder have had running confrontations over requests for town documents relating to how the town charges for water service.
Councilmember Karl Hjorten, who wasn’t at the meeting, said later that the clerk had three busy functions right now and didn’t need Wilder as a fourth.
He said the clerk has the current and ongoing BPA project on power lines, the proposed waste water treatment plant, and her own all-consuming job to do, and Wilder’s demands made a fourth project.
“The constant requests for public documents is taking far too much of the clerk’s time,” Hjorten stated. “He has asked for a copy of all the receipts of anyone that has been issued for making copies of documents for the past 10 years. … And on occasion he has asked for copies of material we have supplied earlier.”
“While he, and any citizen, has a right to ask for any public document,” Hjorten said, “the frequency and amount of requests is more than can be handled without some help.”
Hjorten said that while he wasn’t there, he would have voted to add the new employee.
Visker stated that one of the things she would like to get done is to get the town’s ordinances and policies online so interested parties can access them without town staff having to dig out the information for them.
Wilder and the town staff have had a running battle about requests. So much so, that city hall employees have reported feeling threatened by Wilder and have had police officers stand by while Wilder is in the building. This has prompted Wilder to make his requests by mail, because he says there’s a certain amount of intimidation, having a police officer present when he makes requests.
The issue is further highlighted by a council request for the installation of cameras in critical places in city hall. That request was also granted by the council.
Police Chief Pat Collins told the council that his department has cameras in the lobby of the police station and also in the interview room. He stated that he has the capacity to add audio where all the cameras are located, but only does so now when a person is being interviewed.
The town is going to look into whether to add just the cameras or add the recording capacity at the same time.
The amount of money it will cost the town hasn’t been determined.