Administrator offered a job by Oregon city
Tonganoxie soon may be looking for a new city administrator.
Chris Eppley, Tonganoxie's city administrator since January 1997, has been tabbed as city manager in Keizer, Ore., a city just north of Salem.
However, Eppley said Tuesday that he still was in contract negotiations with the city of Keizer.
"They've offered me the position," he said. "I have not yet been able to come to terms on a contract. We're e-mailing back and forth."
Eppley said the opportunity to return to Oregon he is a native of Yamhill, Ore., a small town 45 miles west of Portland is coupled with a desire to spend more time with his wife. The couple have been married for 2 1/2 years, but have not been able to live together full-time because of her job, which required a great deal of travel.
But Sha Eppley recently took a job as manager of the billing center for Apria Health Care in the company's branch near the Portland Airport.
"At this particular time, it was a good opportunity for her and we decided to follow her career," Chris Eppley said. "The primary reason is that this will give us an opportunity finally to settle down and live together as a family, where we can live under the same roof for seven days a week and have a real life. That is the primary reason I submitted a resume for Keizer, Oregon."
Bob Newton, mayor of Keizer, said his city council met Monday night to discuss Eppley's contract.
"I think we're very close to being finished with the negotiations," he said. "We all came to agreement on how we would respond to Chris' counter-proposal, and that's on its way this morning. I think we're confident that things will work out. We're excited about this. He sure impressed a lot of people here."
If, by chance, negotiations fall through, Newton said Keizer would turn to its second choice, who is the chief of the Keizer fire district.
"You just have to know that we were certainly impressed with Chris when he would come in front of a local person, who we know and have confidence in and have respect for," Newton said. "We feel very fortunate. Lots of places have difficulty identifying even a single choice. We have two."
Pat Albert, a member of the Tonganoxie City Council who also is president of the chamber of commerce, said Eppley would be missed.
"It's going to be hard to replace him," Albert said. "We're going to have to look for somebody who can fill in and do that job. We'll have to be patient and see what happens and go from there.
"He's been a real asset to our community, and he's going to be hard to replace."
Tonganoxie Planning Commission Chairman Larry Shepek agreed.
"I think he's an asset, and I'd like to retain him if at all possible," Shepek said. "I congratulate him. I think he's done a good job for us. If it doesn't come to fruition, I'd like to have him stay."
Eppley said leaving Tonganoxie would be difficult.
"I love Tonganoxie," Eppley said. "I have a lot of ties here. It's a great community. We're doing some wonderful things, and I'm not necessarily ready to leave. Unfortunately, we had to do what we had to do for the betterment of our family situation."
If Eppley and the city of Keizer agree to a contract, the earliest he would start work there is late June, he said.
Tracy Davis, city recorder for Keizer, said the city has a population of about 30,260. It is just north of Salem and about 40 miles south of Portland.
The Keizer city manager retired in November and will work through a contractual agreement until July 1, she said.
Eppley was chosen from a pool of 27 applicants. That group was narrowed to Eppley and two others. Davis said six council members and a mayor lead the city.
"I think they liked his (Eppley's) people skills and his knowledge of city government," she said. "He seemed energetic. He impressed them. The other two candidates did not have prior city management experience. We're really excited for him to get here. It's a great place to work, and I think he'll fit in really well."
Eppley, 29, graduated in 1993 from Oregon State University with degrees in political science and sociology. He earned a master's degree in public administration from the University of Kansas.