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Bainbridge City Manager Mark Dombroski resigns

City Manager Mark Dombroski is leaving Bainbridge Island for a consulting job in Washington, D.C. - Brad Camp
City Manager Mark Dombroski is leaving Bainbridge Island for a consulting job in Washington, D.C.
— image credit: Brad Camp

The City Council will discuss finding a temporary replacement at its meeting Wednesday.

City Manager Mark Dombroski has resigned his post effective Oct. 31.

Dombroski wrote in an email to City Council members Monday that he has accepted a position as vice president of a consulting firm in Washington, D.C. He wrote that he will provide energy and utility advisory services to federal agencies.

"This has proven to be a challenging and, at times, frustrating position," Dombroski wrote to the council. "And while I am proud of the accomplishments to date, there is much to be done. My sincere hope is that the future City Council and the city manager they hire will develop a positive working relationship."

Dombroski said in an email to the Bainbridge Review that he made the decision to change jobs this past weekend following a visit to Washington, D.C. His new company was started by several former co-workers, with whom he has worked alongside for many years. Dombroski said he was not searching for a new position but was recruited by the company.

Tuesday morning an item concerning finding a temporary manager appeared on the Sept. 30 special City Council meeting agenda. The meeting agenda called for a cancellation of a contract with Prothman Company for a performance review of the city manager's service and a new contract to find an interim manager.

Council mayor Chris Snow said the city will most likely look outside the island for a temporary replacement.

"We don't have a lot of people left on city staff," he said.

Councilor Debbie Vancil wrote in an email that the council must find what she called a "work-out manager."

Vancil said she appreciated Dombroski's service to the community and his resignation will help answer some questions at City Hall.

"This is a good thing for the city because it ends the ongoing argument of when to go out for a search," she said. "An interim (manager) will also have the flexibility and freedom a permanent manager would not enjoy. We are essentially in need of a real "work-out" manager, one who is skilled in pulling organizations back from the brink."

City Councilor Barry Peters said Dombroski's departure is a huge blow to the city.

"This is a tragic loss for our city and our community," he wrote to the council. "Mark provided exactly the sort of managerial and financial leadership that our city needed, and still needs, to get through these very trying times. He will be sorely missed."

Councilor Bill Knobloch had a different point of view on Dombroski's resignation.

"He was hired as a city administrator, and we can't afford to have someone training on the job," he said. "As we transition into a new form of government, this is part of the change that has to happen if we are going to accomplish what the community has directed us to do."

Since joining the city less than two years ago, Dombroski said the finances on the tax-supported side are healthier than they have been.

"The city’s tax supported functions are in better shape than a year ago but still have a long way to go before I would consider them healthy," he said. "The city should have about $2.5 million or more in reserves and working capital, we are at about half of that now and expect to grow slowly over time."

Dombroski was hired in March 2008 to become the city administrator. Previously, Dombroski had never served in that role.

He was chosen from a field of 43 candidates from across the country for the position. The search began in August 2007, shortly after former City Administrator Mary Jo Briggs announced her resignation.

An island resident since 2005, Dombroski served on the city Planning Commission while working as the finance director for Seattle City Light.

Dombroski's contract stipulated that if the change of government vote passed he would become the city manager for at least six months.

Vancil said Dombroski's job of implementing the new form of government was incredibly difficult.

"He was in an impossible situation, with City Hall 'establishment' hoping he would help maintain the status quo, and the council-manager supporters demanding immediate change," she said.

Dombroski's departure marks the fifth resignation by a city official in the calendar year: Peter Namtvedt Best, the city's chief shoreline planner resigned last month; Public Works Directors Bob Earl and Randy Witt both left the city for other jobs this year; and former Police Chief Matt Haney called it quits in January.

Dombroski wrote that he understands the difficulty his resignation will place on a city ravaged by the departures of many high-ranking officials.

"This city has some amazing and wonderful employees and I am saddened by the uncertainty my resignation brings," he wrote. "However, I fully expect them to continue to provide the best service possible with the resources available."

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