Mukilteo council approves new second-in-command role

By Sara Bruestle | Jun 04, 2014

As part of the mayor’s plan to reshape her administration, Mukilteo’s city administrator position will be replaced by another full-time job.

After some hesitation, the City Council on Monday unanimously approved Mayor Jennifer Gregerson’s job description for a full-time management services director. Councilmember Emily Vanderwielen was absent.

“We’re reorganizing so that we can deliver services more efficiently, without spending more money,” Gregerson said.

Councilmembers had asked to wait two weeks to vote on the new position because they wanted more time to mull over the changes. Several of them didn’t see the differences and also questioned the new name.

“I applaud the mayor for recognizing that it is not a one-person job,” Council President Randy Lord said. “Maybe once you’re on the inside trying to do all the work, compared to what it looks like on the campaign trail, there might be eyes opened.

“I support the functional revision. I think this is the best move for the city.”

Also new to the administration are two other full-time jobs: a human resources manager and a policy analyst, which replaces the assistant to the city administrator position.

Earlier this spring, the council approved the policy analyst and HR job descriptions.

Gregerson said she’s restructuring the city's upper management without increasing the salaries’ bottom line.

The management services director position will pay around $105,000 a year, close to what other department heads make now. The city administrator position paid $117,000 a year.

“I’ll commit that would keep it within the Exec Department budget,” Gregerson said. “We might have to shuffle some of the funding within our department, or we’ll look at priorities as we examine the entire budget.”

As second-in-command, the management services director will be a support role to the mayor with limited authority to act on the mayor’s behalf. The director will help coordinate day-to-day operations and some citywide projects.

With this new position, Gregerson said the mayor would clearly serve as the chief executive officer of the city.

The finance, community development and management services directors will now report directly to the mayor. All other department heads, however, would still report to the second-in-command.

Gregerson campaigned to eliminate the city administrator position, saying that the full-time job isn’t necessary in a city of 20,000 with a full-time mayor. The mayor's position pays $70,800 a year.

However, she recently said that a full-time “deputy mayor” – whatever its title may be – is still needed. In the meantime, Police Chief Rex Caldwell has been serving as interim city administrator.

“It’s hard to get across every detail of a political message, but for me it was really that there was overlap in the roles, there was some lack of clarity, and there was a way to provide services better and more efficiently and effectively,” Gregerson said.

Several residents spoke to the council about the mayor’s plan for her second-in-command and offered up alternatives.

“Our city doesn’t need a full-time mayor and full-time city administrator, but I think that whoever is running the city needs to have a lot of experience and expertise,” Charlie Pancerzewski said. “This is not a tiny operation.”

If the mayor isn’t following through with her campaign promise, a better alternative would be to go back to a part-time mayor and full-time administrator, Pancerzewski said.

Resident Jon Boyce shared another alternative: Have the mayor run the city without a second-in-command, and pay her the city administrator’s salary.

“The bottom line is, we’re not spending any more money,” Councilmember Steve Schmalz said. “If the mayor thinks she can do an effective job with different reorganization, I think that’s her prerogative to work within her budget.

“I’m actually for the part-time mayor, full-time administrator. That’s what I campaigned on, but I lost.”

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