LONG BEACH — A city councilman plans to resign this month to take a new job on a city utility crew.
Tye Caldwell has served on the council since 2016. He’s expected to give up the rest of his four-year term so he can join city staff in February.
“The job I have now isn’t enough for me,” the tow-truck driver said. “You can’t beat the pay and benefits of the city.”
Caldwell was hired for one of two new positions being added to Long Beach’s seven-worker water and sewer crew. City Administrator David Glasson and Mayor Jerry Phillips included money in the 2017 city budget to pay the two more utility workers. The City Council approved it.
“We’re getting to the point we need more staff,” Glasson said. “We’re not keeping up on maintenance.”
Long Beach utility workers earn $30,000 to $48,000 a year. Glasson said Caldwell’s experience puts him in the middle of the pay range.
He had to choose between keeping his elected office and joining the utility crew because state law bans Washington cities from giving contracts that pay more than $18,000 a year to council members who make decisions on how to spend taxpayer dollars.
The city advertised the jobs in the newspaper and on its website, Glasson said. He and utility supervisors Don Zuern and Mike Kitzman chose to interview five of the 13 applicants.
They gave one to 10 points for each answer to about a dozen questions. They then averaged the points to come up with a score for each candidate.
“We didn’t want it to be the good ole boys,” Glasson said. “We wanted it to be fair and open.”
The three managers brought information about each candidate’s qualifications and their interview scores to the mayor. Phillips helped make the decision to offer jobs to Caldwell and Larry Kemmer, who lives near Ilwaco and has experience working for an Astoria-based marine spill-response company.
Caldwell said he’s enjoyed serving on the council but is looking forward to working more regular hours at the city than he has as an on-call, tow-truck driver. The 36-year-old hopes to again run for public office in the future, perhaps after he retires.
“He’s done an excellent job on the council,” Phillips said. “He’s a person who didn’t have any hidden agenda.”
State law gives the City Council 90 days to appoint someone to serve until the 2017 election in Caldwell’s Position 2 seat. After the 90-day deadline, the Pacific County Commission would be responsible for filling the seat.
The city is accepting applications for the $300-a-month council position until 5 p.m. on Feb. 24. Registered voters who have lived in Long Beach for at least six months can apply by sending their qualifications and a letter of interest to City Hall, P.O. Box 310, Long Beach, WA 98631.
The council plans to interview candidates and appoint a new member in March.
“We’re looking for someone to join the council who’s committed to the community,” Phillips said.