April 5, 2012 | Vol. 42, No. 14

Benner hired; Lemcke here longer

The job shuffle at city hall continued this week with the temporary hire of Phil Benner as harbormaster, and a four-month extension for facilities manager Brian Lemcke.

Meanwhile, the Haines Borough Assembly is moving ahead with a transition plan that would give clerk Julie Cozzi responsibilities of the borough manager. Cozzi would be aided in the job by two non-benefited, temporary administrative assistants.

Benner stepped in for former harbormaster Ed Barrett this week. Benner was harbormaster in Haines from January 2007 to March 2009. He then filled the same role in Juneau until October 2011, retired and moved to Florida.

Borough manager Mark Earnest said Benner is on a one-month contract that would pay him $7,500. “That’s what he’s on contract for, and we’ll just see how things proceed from here,” Earnest said.

The borough budgeted $102,978 for the harbormaster position in fiscal year 2012, including benefits, equivalent to $8,582 per month.

Benner has applied for the permanent harbormaster opening, and Earnest said he hopes a hire is made by the end of the month.

“I love the Alaskan lifestyle, and I love the people in Haines and like the community,” Benner said. “I think there are some opportunities here, especially for docks and harbors. This is one of the few places that the water meets the road.”

The borough this week pulled an advertisement from its website that sought candidates for the public facilities director job currently held by Lemcke. According to a website posting, recruiting for the position has been terminated.

Lemcke resigned effective May 1, but in an interview with the Chilkat Valley News this week said he would delay his exit until no later than September.

“People have asked if I could stay a little longer just to see this through, and I guess I’m going to try to do that,” he said.

Lemcke said he plans to leave town around September, possibly to move back to Washington, but “nothing’s written in stone.” Lemcke said he “can’t see” changing his mind and staying with the borough permanently, because the job is “more than I want to do.”

The borough this week also postponed indefinitely recruiting for an executive assistant to the manager. Earnest said that hire would be up to the next manager. The municipality is requesting applications for two non-benefited, temporary administrative assistants.

Outgoing manager Earnest suggested temporary hires would be necessary to fill in the gaps as Cozzi steps into the manager’s role.

“We’ve got a huge construction schedule coming up this summer, and it’s going to be important that we have staff – contract or temporary hire or something,” he said.

Mayor Stephanie Scott said the transition plan would name Cozzi as interim manager and deputy clerk Jamie Heinz as interim clerk.

Earnest, whose resignation is effective June 15, said he is unsure of the start date and the length of employment for the temporary administrative assistants. One would be full-time and the other would work 20 hours per week.

“That was part of the transition plan with borough staff,” Earnest said. “We’ll just kind of see what the needs are, applicants and budget, and make decisions based on the combination of those factors.”

He said money for the jobs would come from “unexpended budget sources.”

According to the job descriptions, the assistants will earn $16.89 per hour and perform a variety of routine and complex clerical, administrative and secretarial duties. Applications are due Thursday, April 19.