Woodland adjusts public works director salary amid vacancy


After four months without a public works director, city officials have decided to increase the position’s salary in hopes of attracting more candidates.

Woodland’s City Council voted unanimously last week to increase the position’s salary as they continue to search for a new recruit.

Woodland has been without a public works director since former Mayor Will Finn fired three city employees, including former director Tracey Coleman, effective Dec. 31. The terminations cost Woodland $200,000 in severance pay. Mayor Todd Dinehart and city staff have been looking to fill the vacancy since.

In an April 1 meeting, the City Council agreed to raise the city’s public works director base salary from $120,109 to $135,690. The position’s salary was raised by $15,581, a roughly 13% increase. Dinehart said the city would not go over-budget, as it has gone four months without a director.

As Woodland began seeking qualified candidates earlier this year, Dinehart noticed that the current pay was not competitive enough when compared with other local cities. The City Council agreed that finding a new candidate would be difficult without increasing the current salary.

“I do agree, we really need to be competitive, and you get what you pay for,” Dinehart said during the meeting.

Dinehart compared what La Center, Castle Rock, Kalama, and Chehalis pay their public works together to work out an average. Dinehart said that he chose those four because their population numbers were comparable with Woodland’s.

Woodland city councilors supported the change as the city continues its search.

“Well, we’ve got to get our rates up a little bit, or we’re never going to keep anybody, or we’re never going to get anybody,” Councilor Carol Rounds said. “So it’s imperative that we do something about (it).”

Woodland officials need a public works director on staff soon. Woodland currently expects to have a construction-ready design concept for Exit 21 interchange improvements by 2026 for traffic improvements. In February, Woodland Community Development Director Travis Goddard told The Reflector that while staff can direct certain city projects, infrastructure design approval may require a public works director to be on staff.

“The actual construction advertisements and the selection of a (construction) contractor will require a public works director, but we’re not at those stages right now,” Goddard said. “We’re doing the work to get it ready for those major decisions.”

Dinehart did not respond for further comment regarding the current search as of press time.