The Medford City Council carved out $213,800 in its budget to pay for a new project manager to prepare the city in case a major earthquake or other disaster strikes.
Only Councilor Chris Corcoran voted against the new position, citing the staggering cost as his main objection.
"I'm sitting here with my mouth open and saying, 'This is not sustainable,'" he said.
The city will pay $145,000 for the annual salary and benefits, plus another $38,300 in materials and services annually. A one-time expense of $30,500 is for equipment in the city manager's office.
Corcoran said he supports more preparation on the part of the city in case of disaster but thinks the city is facing such a tight budget that it can't justify the cost at this point.
Councilor Eli Matthews said that initially he was opposed to the idea of spending so much money and creating a new position that will require an ongoing expense.
However, the city will be seeking Federal Emergency Management Agency and state grants. In order to qualify for the grants, the city needs to have an emergency management plan in place to deal with disasters.
"We can't afford not to do this," Matthews said. "It's a matter of time before something happens."
The city will seek a project manager who has training in emergency management. City Manager Eric Swanson provided a report to the council that his office didn't have the expertise or staffing levels to handle an emergency management position.
— Damian Mann