Costs for new Bainbridge interim manager to be higher than former manager's salary

Bainbridge Island will likely pay its interim city manager more money than it paid former city manager Brenda Bauer.

That's the early expectation, at least from council members who are working on the ad hoc committee to find a new city manager.

Emails released by the city this week show extended discussions between Councilman Steve Bonkowski and Councilwoman Anne Blair over the city's costs for a new interim manager. Members of the ad hoc committee released a string of seven emails that were exchanged between committee members early last week.

In the emails, Bonkowski said the cost of the interim manager "is approximately $4,200/week plus $1,000/week for living expenses."

Bauer, who was fired by the council on a 4-3 vote in March, was budgeted to get a weekly salary of $4,000 a week, including benefits.

In an April 2 email to his fellow committee members, Bonkowski said they had expected that the costs of the interim manager would go beyond what had been budgeted for the city manager's position.

"We had estimated that the interim might cost up to $34,000 above the 2012 budgeted amount for the city manager," Bonkowski wrote.

If the city stuck to its 2012 budget, he added, the city would be able to pay an interim manager for 26 weeks.

"I believe a better estimate, given a start date at the end of April, would be 16 weeks," Bonkowski added. "That amounts to an overall expenditure of $85,000."

The emails released this week also show that the committee had considered not hiring an interim manager, and using current staff during the transition while a permanent manager was found and hired.

Bonkowski had estimated that approach would save the city $64,000 from what had been budgeted.

But Blair, responding to Bonkowski, noted that the city would have to pay Morgan Smith — the city's deputy manager who has been serving as acting manager since Bauer's departure — more if she was made interim manager. Blair guessed that the expected savings of not hiring an interim, then, would be closer to $40,000.

The search for a top executive to manage city hall will dominate discussions among elected leaders this week.

The council will hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to get presentations from four executive search firms — Affion Public, the Prothman Company, Strategic Government Resources and The Mercer Group — that want the job to find the city's next manager.

The council decided last week to invite Michael Caldwell to Bainbridge to interview for the interim city manager job at the council's regular business meeting on Wednesday. That meeting begins at 6:30 p.m., but will be preceded by a closed-door executive session dedicated to current and pending litigation, and collective bargaining, that will be held at 6 p.m.

Caldwell has worked for cities throughout Puget Sound and Washington as an interim manager and city administrator.

He was the interim city manager for the city of Medina from March to October 2008, and before that, Mill Creek's interim city manager from January to July 2005.

He has also served as interim city manager for Fife and Bothell, and was the interim city administrator for Bonney Lake for two months in 1996. Caldwell was also city administrator for the city of Lynnwood from 1982 to 1995.



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