Council considers contract extension for City Manager

The City Council is expected to adopt a resolution on Tuesday that would extend the contract for City Manager Jim Walton. If the council votes to pass the resolution, Walton’s contract, which was due to expire Mar. 31, would continue through June 30. No other changes would be made to Walton’s salary or duties.

“We approached the city manager about a pay increase,” said Councilman Spiro Manthou, “but he flat out said, ‘No.’”

Walton currently receives an annual salary of $158,500.

Walton moved from deputy city manager to city manager in July 2003 when Ray Corpuz was fired after Tacoma Police Chief David Brame killed his wife and himself in April 2003.

Manthou, along with Councilman Mike Lonergan and Mayor Bill Baarsma, is part of the City Manager’s Performance Appraisal Committee. He also leads the current effort to find a new city manager — a process that started Nov. 21 with a series of discovery interviews designed to provide The Oldani Group, Inc., a consulting firm hired to facilitate the search, direction in the city’s needs to fill this position. During that process, interviews with council members, department directors, regional government staff, business leaders, neighborhood residents, community members, and labor representatives were conducted in person and via questionnaires.

On Jan. 21, 550 recruitment brochures were mailed to city managers, assistant deputy city managers, and county administrators nationwide in cities with populations comparable to Tacoma. Print advertisements were also placed with nearly a dozen publications and professional organizations.

The Oldani Group will gather applications from qualified candidates until Feb. 25, and recommend a list of finalists to Mayor Bill Baarsma and the City Council on Mar. 11.

The city hopes to hire a new City Manager by May 2.

Extending Walton’s contract serves two purposes.

First, the mayor and city council are pleased with Walton’s performance as city manager. He was instrumental last fall in making recommendations to the council for the 2005-2006 biennium budget.

Second, Walton presently leads the city’s Breakthrough Change Initiative — a year-long process designed to re-tool the way the city does business in order to save money. Walton hopes to save $3 to $5 million annually in city expenses.