A former city manager for Oregon City will take the reins of Ashland's city government as officials here search for a new city administrator. The Ashland City Council confirmed Larry Patterson's appointment as interim city administrator earlier this week.

A former city manager for Oregon City will take the reins of Ashland's city government as officials here search for a new city administrator.

The Ashland City Council confirmed Larry Patterson's appointment as interim city administrator earlier this week.

Patterson will begin work in Ashland on Monday, overlapping for a few days with current City Administrator Martha Bennett, who will end her five-year tenure in Ashland on Wednesday, Ashland Human Resources Director Tina Gray said.

Patterson likely will serve as interim city administrator for four to six months. He retired from his Oregon City job in 2010 and told Ashland officials he wasn't interested in becoming the permanent city administrator. He has 35 years of experience in municipal government.

Bennett is leaving to take the chief operating officer position for Portland Metro, a regional governing body.

Mayor John Stromberg said it's sign of Bennett's strong leadership skills that she is moving from a town with about 20,000 people to a job where she will serve an area with more than 1 million residents.

Stromberg said Bennett always demonstrated integrity, treated city staff respectfully while requiring accountability and communicated frankly with elected officials.

He said Bennett, who is a parent, was a true member of the community, shopping at local stores and riding her bike around town. Bennett echoed those sentiments. "I love this community passionately," Bennett said.

She said Ashland is filled with people who care deeply about the community and various issues.

Bennett said the town has big city-caliber staff members who choose to live and work here.

Community members can say farewell to Bennett during an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, in the upstairs city administration area of Ashland City Hall, 20 E. Main St., on the downtown Plaza.

The Waters Consulting Group Inc., which is based in Texas, is conducting a nationwide search for a new city administrator for a fee of $21,500.

The salary range for the job is $116,864 to $137,978 annually. Bennett is at the top of that salary range. Her health care and retirement benefits are worth nearly $66,000 per year, Gray said.

The total value of her salary and benefits is about $203,700.

While he is interim city administrator, Patterson will earn a salary, cash payments in lieu of benefits and a rental housing allowance each month that would equate to $174,324 if he worked for a full year, according to city of Ashland Human Resources Department figures.

He will receive $350 per month for use of his personal vehicle at work, while Bennett had a $400 personal vehicle allowance, according to Patterson's employment agreement with the city and Gray.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.