By AMY NILE

anile@chinookobserver.com

LONG BEACH — The Pacific County Public Utility District commissioners have blocked General Manager Doug Miller from hiring or laying off workers.

Miller suggested during the June 20 board meeting that the utility get rid of a lineman and add a management position.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me,” Commissioner Dick Anderson said. “The crews are the ones who do a lot of the work.”

Miller said the lineman is no longer needed because the PUD pulled the plug on its plan to expand power to Tokeland.

However, he said, the utility will need to hire an energy conservation manager before Jim Dolan retires next spring. Otherwise, the utility will not get about $750,000 a year from a program that rebates to customers who take certain steps to save power.

Anderson and Commissioner Mike Swanson voted to stop Miller, who is retiring, from making staffing decisions before he leaves. They said they wanted to hold off on any changes until Oct. 1, when chief engineer Jason Dunsmoor is set to take over. Commissioner Diana Thompson disagreed.

“We need to keep moving forward with running the utility,” she said. “The board is not supposed to micromanage. It’s our job to set policy.”

The commission, which usually meets in the afternoon, has scheduled its next meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at the PUD offices in Raymond.

“We wanted to give more people a chance to come without having to miss work,” Swanson said.

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