Leader picked for Walla Walla city/county planning agency

Tom Glover, who is the county's community development director, has been asked to take over the new agency.

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WALLA WALLA -- The head of Walla Walla County's planning agency has been offered the top position of a new joint city-county planning agency.

County Community Development Director Tom Glover, interim director for the new agency, was offered the post by the three-member board of directors at its Nov. 22 meeting. The board met again Monday to continue work to create the Walla Walla Joint Community Development Agency.

Glover's employment contract is still being drafted and his appointment will have to be confirmed by the City Council and county commissioners, said Greg Tompkins, the county commissioner who represents the county on the board.

Tompkins and City Council member Jim Barrow, who represents the city on the board, said the board moved to hire Glover after agreeing they needed to fill the position as soon as possible to move ahead with getting the new agency up and running, hopefully by the first of the year.

"Tom's proven himself in putting this together," Barrow said. The position will be an "at-will" appointment, meaning Glover will serve at the pleasure of the board. Under the terms of the intergovernmental agreement which created the new agency, he can be removed by a majority vote of the three-member board.

The third board member, Bill Clemens, was not present at Monday's meeting, but was at the Nov. 22 meeting when the vote was taken to offer Glover the director's position. Clemens is the board's at-large member and was jointly appointed by the city and county.

At Monday's meeting, board members agreed to continue action on various matters because work is still being done to complete them. Topics included decisions on an employee benefits provider, review and possible approval of the agency's budget and financial oversight and responsibilities.

Tompkins, Barrow and others at the meeting also discussed what duties the agency will be expected to perform and what activities it would not be asked to do. Tompkins said he was concerned that the number of tasks the joint agency would be asked to do would require expanding staff, which would eliminate any of the savings the merger was expected to produce.

"I want to know what my bottom-line efficiencies and savings are," Tompkins said. "If Tom (Glover) comes back and says, 'Yeah, I can do this but I need four more (full-time employees)', that changes everything."

Meeting participants, including among others Walla Walla City Councilman Dominic Elia, City Manager Nabiel Shawa and City Attorney Tim Donaldson, also discussed how the new agency would handle issues such as notifying the Council and commission when work needed to start on annual comprehensive plan amendments, shoreline master program updates and other matters now handled by the separate city and county departments.

Board members agreed to ask the Council and county commissioners to be at the next meeting to review the intergovernmental agreement. That meeting is tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m. on Dec. 6 at the county Public Health and Legislative Building, 314 W. Main St.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318. Check out his blog at blogs.ublabs.org/randomthoughts.

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