PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend City Council has appointed an interim city manager to begin work on Monday.
Nora Mitchell, the city’s director of finance and administrative services, was approved last Monday night to step in for David Timmons, who will retire Friday after 20 years of service.
Timmons was hired as Port Townsend’s first city manager in 1999.
The council voted 5-0 in favor of Mitchell, with two members excused.
Mitchell has served as acting city manager several times this year and has played a lead role in organizing the city’s search for a full-time replacement.
As interim city manager, Mitchell will receive an adjusted monthly salary of $12,350.75, according to city documents.
Mitchell said that falls within the middle of the range of the current city manager position, which was documented in the 2019 city budget between $130,010 and $158,271.
The council last Wednesday named John Mauro, the chief sustainability officer for the Auckland Council in Auckland, New Zealand, its preferred candidate for the permanent position out of four finalists.
Mauro was sent an official offer sheet late Sunday night, Mitchell told council members, but he was traveling back to New Zealand on Monday and had committed to speak at a conference this week.
“At this point in time, we remain optimistic, but we need to be a little more patient,” Mitchell said.
“He had asked for a week to get back to us. We may not hear anything from him until next Monday.”
Should he accept, the city will initiate a more thorough background check, including criminal and financial history, Mitchell said.
Mauro, originally from Auburn, Maine, also is a finalist for town manager in Windham, Maine, according to a June 4 story in the Portland Press Herald. Windham is less than 30 miles south of Auburn.
A separate story in the Press Herald this week detailed Mauro’s meet-and-greet in Windham last Friday and how he found the town “irresistible” due to its proximity to Portland, Maine, and other rural areas.
Mitchell said Mauro was the sole finalist for the position in Maine, but she said he also used terms such as “thrilled” about the opportunity in Port Townsend.
“It sounds like he was very positive,” Mitchell said about her conversation with Phil McKenney, the city-hired recruiter from Peckham & McKenney. “He thought the collaborative process we used was very special.”
Mitchell will continue in the interim role until the council hires a full-time city manager. She will revert back to her current position and salary on Jan. 1, 2020.
She described being at “the top step” of the finance director’s salary, the range for which was between $99,751 and $127,461 annually, according to the 2019 city budget.
The council also waived the requirement that the interim city manager live within city limits. Mitchell lives in Port Ludlow.
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