Tacoma City Council votes Tuesday on city manager's performance review, contract

Tacoma City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a resolution that would keep City Manager Eric Anderson employed through Dec. 31, 2012.

The vote comes at a time when the council completed a performance evaluation for Anderson that covers his time at City Hall from July 15, 2010 through July 14, 2011. The evaluation lists “commendations” and “needs for improvement” in six categories: organizational and human resources management; fiscal/business management; relationship with mayor and council; long-range planning/strategic plan; relationship with public/public relations; and intergovernmental relations.

The evaluation also includes a list of goals for Anderson, who was hired in 2005, to achieve between now and the end of his contract, including “increas[ing] by four or five the number of conferences/conventions held at the Convention Center in 2011 and by eight or ten in 2012; explor[ing] interest in an additional hotel downtown; attract[ing] three manufacturing (clean tech, clean energy, homeland security, environmental science) businesses; develop[ing] a free standing economic development Web site; attract[ing] a Joint Base Lewis-McChord associated urgent care facility and pharmacy to Tacoma; Complet[ing an] inventory of historic properties by end of 2011; and redo[ing the City of Tacoma’s] Web site entirely to improve access to information, ease of use and customer friendliness.”

If approved by City Council, Anderson’s salary would remain $235,372.80 annually.

To read a copy of the performance evaluation, visit http://cms.cityoftacoma.org/cityclerk/Files/CityCouncil/Agendas/2011-FullAgendas/Full20110712.pdf (pages 186 – 204).

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Anderson’s Performance Evaluation (Excerpts) | Areas of Commendation

— Overall, the City Manager is making progress with staff to implement the priorities identified during the 2010 Council Workshop: hiring those with expertise in specific areas and providing opportunities for crossfunctional training such as the Safe and Clean Teams, TIDAL Wave and other initiatives. The City Manager was quick to propose use of city-owned property for Community Gardens which was a big boost for the initiative;

— Managing the individual priorities and personalities of nine council members can present challenges and opportunities for any City Manager. The City Manager does a good job understanding the priorities of the council as a whole, and the interests of individual councilmembers.

— In carrying out policy direction from Council, the City Manager has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to making Tacoma a safe, clean and attractive community. Maintaining funding in budget recommendations for things like neighborhood clean-ups, expansion of Community Based Services and ongoing support for code enforcement and TPD CLO positions, the City Manager has signaled strong and continued support for this first priority;

— The City Manager is well respected in his field by his peers and elected officials. Government relations staff work well with other organizations including Pierce Transit, Sound Transit and other regional, state and national organizations. Getting complete harmony from a group of CEOs is a tall order for anyone. The CM has done a good job navigating the political climate and putting the needs of Tacoma front and center when interacting with other agencies and agency chiefs.

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Anderson’s Performance Evaluation (Excerpts) | Needs for Improvement

— There is the impression that staffing is not balanced to best meet the needs of the City. Some departments are completely over-worked and understaffed, while others have too many employees without enough work to keep them busy. This erodes the concept of a high performing government;

— The Shoreline Master Planning process has been disappointing for some councilmembers. City staff has unnecessarily agitated and frustrated various stakeholders by proffering plans and ideas later deemed inconsistent or with incorrect information. While some of this has been corrected, it appears the City Manager either was unaware or unwilling to act more promptly to correct these issues;

— When asked to make additional cuts to the budget, the City Manager chose to largely address the shortfall with changes in revenue and expenditure assumptions instead of making actual budget cuts. We can only hope the economy recovers in a manner that will bring increased revenue;

— The City Manager needs to do a better job reaching out to various stakeholders in the business and development community to improve trust in City government. Some stakeholders, who have historically been influential, now feel ignored and marginalized. There is an opportunity to collaborate, solicit ideas and build momentum to improve outcomes for the City;

— The City Manager must do a better job of providing Council with timely, complete and accurate information. Some councilmembers feel that choices presented to council for policy making decisions are used to frame and strengthen pre-determined decisions, with little room for council deliberation and research;

— Lack of long-range planning has resulted in budgetary and process mis-steps with the Cheney Stadium remodel and the parking garage at the Tacoma Dome;

— The City Manager and communications staff appear to take a reactive, not proactive, approach to media relations. The recently revealed information about the Zina Linnik tragedy, and the City Manager’s handling of it caused confusion, seemed to erode public trust and was perceived as damaging to the City’s reputation.