The Eatonville Town Council did not approve Seth Boettcher as the town’s new public works director during a contentious special meeting that saw new Mayor David Baublits clash with members of the council over his attempt to hire Boettcher without the council’s approval.
The special meeting was the result of the previous Jan. 24 regular Town Council meeting that saw Baublits announce he had hired Boettcher despite no council vote on the matter. Councilmembers Bill Dunn and Emily McFadden suggested a special meeting to address the matter.
“Having one person control both who is hired and how much money they are paid creates an environment that is ripe for abuse,” Dunn said during the Feb. 7 meeting, referencing Boettcher’s proposed $120,000 salary, which is 25 percent higher than a compensation study for the position recommended.
“Rates of pay are set by council, period.”
He then excoriated Baublits in noting “the mayor continues to show a disregard of this council’s jurisdiction on these matters.”
Dunn said the mayor is “over-complicating” what he called a “very simple process.”
Baublits, taking obvious umbrage at what Dunn had to say, contended his plan was to hire Boettcher as the public works director pending council approval or, barring that, to make him town administrator, which is already in the 2022 budget approved in December.
“I have no need to go to the council for hiring of Seth Boettcher as the town administrator ’cause it’s in the budget and the EMC [Eatonville Municipal Code],” Baublits said. “I don’t need any approval from you or anything else.”
Baublits said his attempt to hire Boettcher as public works director was because the council had not done the 2022 budget properly.
“Whether the council approves of this or not, we need Mr. Boettcher,” Baublits said, adding his pick for public works director is worth the $120,000 salary.
Other council members chimed in.
New Councilmember Peter Paul echoed Dunn’s comments about the mayor not following procedure.
McFadden questioned why Baublits was putting all the blame on the council rather than doing a better job of preparing himself for assuming the responsibilities as Eatonville’s mayor.
“I do believe there is a process for this and perhaps study sessions when you were mayor-elect — before you took office in January — so that we could have had these discussions prior to hiring. That would have been good,” she said.
She noted the importance of the mayor and council not being at loggerheads.
“I think the council’s role needs to be respected, and the mayor’s role needs to be respected,” McFadden said. “And it needs to go both ways.”
Councilmember Robert Thomas indicated his willingness to vote for Baublits’ choice for public works director but recommended the mayor get together with town attorney Gregory Jacoby to address council members’ concerns.
“But we can’t let the town die while we reconcile our peccadillos,” he said.
Councilmembers Dunn, McFadden and Paul voted no. Councilmember Thomas voted yes, as did new Councilmember Kyle Litzenberger.
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