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Corvallis City Manager Mark Shepard, who has been in the position for about two-and-a-half years, has received another positive evaluation from the City Council.

The city manager position is one of three that are evaluated annually by the council. The other two are the city attorney and the municipal judge.

Councilors gave Shepard, who started with the city May 1, 2015, high marks for being responsive to council needs, focused on customer service and willing to innovate on budget matters. Initiatives cited in Shepard’s evaluation (see this story online for the text) included the "report a problem" option for community comments on the city website and his suggestion of a separate budget fund for use by the mayor and City Council.

Councilors also complimented Shepard for his development of a strategic operation plan to replace the council goals system, although the evaluation document noted that the initiative still is a work in progress.

The council evaluation process was led by Ward 4 Councilor Barbara Bull, the council president.

“The council continues to be very pleased with Mark’s performance,” reads the overall assessment from the council. “Mark continues to perform well under demanding circumstances. Mark navigates the intricacies of supporting nine councilors and the mayor well and is able to provide the information council seeks and requires.

“Mark’s commitment and professionalism is recognized and appreciated by the council.”

“I appreciate that the council trusts and values the leadership I bring to the city,” Shepard said. “We have continued to make significant progress and improvements over the past year. These improvements can only happen with the support and effort of staff at all levels in the organization and with the City Council as part of of the team. I am thankful for all the efforts by staff and council over the past year.”

Shepard said the was most proud of the budget savings that the city was able to accomplish in the past two years. Shepard set a goal of cutting $1 million without reducing services, and he was able to exceed that by saving $1.2 million.

“I would be surprised if there is another city in Oregon that has cut their annual operating expenses by $1.2 million, without reducing the services they deliver,” said Shepard, who noted that the savings plan succeeded despite rising health care and employee retirement costs.

“City staff … will continue to look for innovative ways to continue to deliver services the community values while managing our costs,” Shepard said.

Councilors awarded Shepard a 3 percent merit pay increase, 2 percentage points less than the 5 percent he received with his first evaluation. The raise increases Shepard’s salary to $172,154.

“The city manager is doing an excellent job,” said Ward 9 Councilor Hal Brauner during council deliberations on the evaluation and the pay increase. “He deserves even more than that.”

As one of the 77 “exempt” employees on the city payroll, Shepard also is eligible for a cost of living pay increase in July. But whether there are COLAs and at what percentage will be decided by the City Council during its discussions of the 2018-19 city budget.

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Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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