Port Townsend makes plans for raft of retirements on city staff

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The face of city senior staff is changing, with several new department heads and retirements expected in the next year.

Some of the positions will be filled through a national personnel search run by an outside agency, while others will be recruited locally, according to City Manager David Timmons.

Search firm Prothman of Issaquah recently recruited Nora Mitchell as the new city finance director, who will begin work June 1, and will fill the Port Townsend Library director position, which has been vacant since Theresa Percy resigned in July.

Those jobs to be filled include those of the city attorney, to be vacated by the July 31 retirement of John Watts, and the city clerk, which will be open when Pam Kolacy retires sometime this year.

Watts submitted a letter in February stating his intention to retire. Kolacy has not announced a specific date.

Timmons said the timing of Watts’ resignation letter took him by surprise and will cause the postponement of the search for a new library director.

“Getting a new library director was in the queue, but I needed to move it further back,” he said, adding that he plans to meet with interim library director Beverly Shelton in the next few weeks to determine how long she is willing to stay on the job.

Mitchell, who lives in Port Ludlow, served as the director of finance for Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton since 2008 and has 27 years’ experience in financial management. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration.

She will oversee finance, clerk, utility and tax billing, information technology and human resources.

She replaces Michael Legarsky, who left the position in March 2013 and now works in a similar position for Jefferson County Public Utility District 1.

Mitchell’s annual salary is $105,000.

In his resignation letter, Watts said he was available to help Timmons in his recruitment of a successor and would stay on for longer if needed.

He is also willing to work on special projects after his retirement but hopes to “do some volunteer work, take some trips, learn Spanish, read War and Peace and catch up on some other things.”

Timmons said the city will handle the recruitment of Watts’ replacement without an agency because the requirements are fairly specific. He seeks an attorney from within the state who has experience in municipal issues.

“We are looking for an assistant city attorney or a contractor who wants to move up,” he said.

The city attorney is a full-time position with benefits with a pay range of about $110,000 per year, Timmons said.

Timmons plans to promote Deputy City Clerk Joanna Sanders into Kolacy’s spot, although the action must be vetted by the City Council. In anticipation of this, two new deputy clerks have been hired by the city.

If and when Sanders takes over as clerk Kolacy will set up a human resources system with a director to be hired for that department in early 2015.

“Right now, the HR and clerk positions are combined, but the load in both departments has grown exponentially, so we need to split those functions,” Timmons said.

Also expected to retire is administrative clerk Peach Stebbins, whose position will be filled through local recruitment, Timmons said.

Two senior police officers, Sgt. Joe Kaare and Officer Bill Corrigan, will retire this year, Timmons said.

Other senior staff, Police Chief Conner Daily and Public Works Director Ken Clow have not disclosed any retirement plans, and Timmons isn’t asking.

“It’s a sensitive topic,” Timmons said.

“We need to plan for succession, but I’m not going to go around and ask people what their plans are.”

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 02. 2014 6:47PM
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