Port Townsend considers keeping retired city manager on retainer for six months

Contract would pay $18,000 through Dec. 31

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend City Council is considering keeping the only city manager it’s ever had on retainer for an additional six months after he retires at the end of June.

The council deliberated earlier this week on the status of David Timmons, who has held the position since 1999.

A panel formed to interview city manager candidates might make a recommendation to the council on finalists to replace Timmons as early as June 17. Meanwhile, the council Monday tabled a discussion about paying Timmons an additional $18,000 from July 1 through Dec. 31 to be on call up to 25 hours per month, if needed.

Nora Mitchell, the city’s finance and administrative services director, referred to a February 2018 commitment the council made that would offer Timmons health benefits for a year following the end of his tenure. But the city found it could not give public funds in that manner, so staff came back with a proposal to keep Timmons on retainer for six months. The proposal likely will come back to the council for a vote in a few weeks.

“The intent is not to have him in the background doing long-term work but to have him there for advice if we request it,” Mitchell told the council Monday.

Mitchell said the potential contract would pay Timmons $3,000 per month, whether he provides the service or not. Timmons, who recused himself from the Monday discussion, plans to purchase supplemental health insurance with the funds, Mitchell said.

Council member Bob Gray questioned the total as it relates to a full year of health care coverage, but Mitchell confirmed the costs.

“It’s the full range of benefits that are currently provided,” she said. “Health, dental and vision.”

Several council members wanted to see the specific contract language before they would approve it.

“Given the things we have coming down the pike at us right now, specifically our water system, making sure we have someone who has the degree of background our current city manager has would make sense to me, and I would never ask him to do that for free,” council member David Faber said.

Gray and others said they are confident current staff members will be able to fill in gaps when a transition takes place. Gray also wants to make sure Timmons isn’t being asked to work more than 25 hours per month. Mitchell said the pay rate for the proposed contract is $120 per hour.

“You can not get a consultant at that rate for something like this,” council member Ariel Speser said.

Council member Michelle Sandoval recalled having a conversation with Timmons about his plans once he retires. “I said, ‘You can’t just leave us like this. You have a lot of institutional knowledge,’ ” Sandoval said. “I remember feeling like there are a lot of big things on the plate of the new person.”

Mayor Deb Stinson said the contract would be a “tool for the acting manager to exercise.”

“It’s not carte blanche, nor is it any indication we don’t have the staff in place,” Stinson said. “Twenty years is a long time, and there are things that are hard to document or hard to find.”

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Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].

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