Council hires Anderson as new City Manager

Des Moines City Manager Eric Anderson, known as a cost-cutter who put the city back on track after financial difficulties during the late-1990s, will become Tacoma’s third city manager in two years, according to a unanimous vote by the City Council last night.

“I look forward to working with the Council and City staff.,” said Anderson, in a statement released by the City of Tacoma. Anderson said he was pleased by the council’s vote. “Tacoma is a great international city and it deserves the best our efforts can bring,” he added. “I look forward to getting to work.”

Anderson will assume duties as city manager July 15, and will receive an annual salary of $189,446.40, plus benefits that include $550 per month in car allowances, and 50 hours of time off / administrative leave upon hire (with an additional 14 days per year). The city will also pay moving expenses up to $25,000, and a housing equalization allowance of $10,000.

Anderson’s employment agreement with the city will continue through July 15, 2007, and the City Manager’s Performance Appraisal Committee will conduct annual performance reviews.

Though the benefits offered by the city are unprecedented, the job in Tacoma is a cut in pay for Anderson, who earns $190,598 in salary, plus $14,721 in benefits that include deferred compensation, car allowance, and longevity pay as the Des Moines City Manager.

“He was willing to forego things like longevity pay and deferred compensation contributions from the city,” commented Mayor Bill Baarsman, who described Anderson as “top-flight.” “He really wants to be here.”

“It seemed obvious from the beginning that he really wanted to come to Tacoma,” added City Councilmember and Chair of the City Manager’s Performance Appraisal Committee, Spiro Manthou.

Much of Anderson’s work in Tacoma will focus on budget deficits facing the city over the next several years. The City Council devised short-term solutions to fix a $29.6 million shortfall in the current biennial budget. Projections call for a $16 million deficit in the 2007-2008 budget, and a $26.5 million deficit in the 2009-2010 budget.

Current City Manager Jim Walton has proposed a Breatkthrough Change Initiative designed to cut costs related to city operations. However, whether that initiative will continue under Anderson’s watch is uncertain. Walton’s contract ends June 30, and he plans to retire.

Anderson has been the city manager in Des Moines, Iowa, since 1995, where he has served as a policy advisor to the city council and prepared the operating and capital improvements budgets for council approval. He was also the city manager in Evanston, Ill., from 1991 through 1995, and in Eau Claire, Wis., from 1984 through 1991. Anderson was selected from an original field of 41 applicants and a select field of three finalists who interviewed with the council earlier this month.