SEQUIM — Sequim Assistant City Manager Charisse Deschenes is officially interim city manager.
City council members approved her contract at Monday night’s city council meeting in a 6-0 vote with Mayor William Armacost absent.
Deschenes’ new role follows the resignation of city manager Charlie Bush as council members voted 4-2 for his resignation Jan. 11. His last day with the city after five-plus years was Feb. 12.
No specific reasons have been disclosed for his resignation; Armacost has alluded only to “philosophical differences between Charlie and certain members of the council on some issues facing the city.”
Deschenes’ annual salary as interim city manager will be $123,000.
It includes health and retirement benefits, a $300 car allowance per month, and paid professional development dues and subscriptions for various associations and organizations.
Deputy Mayor Tom Ferrell said he felt Deschenes’ contract was fair.
“I’m quite happy we have someone of Charisse’s caliber,” he said.
“Those of you who don’t know her very well, I think you’re in for a treat. She’s got a lot of good ideas, and she’s action-oriented.”
Deschenes originally agreed to take on the interim position last year after Bush announced his plan to resign in February 2020 to hike the Appalachian Trail. However, he asked to rescind the resignation to help the city through the COVID-19 pandemic, and council members unanimously agreed.
Bush was reinstated March 23, 2020.
Armacost said at the Feb. 8 council meeting that Deschenes has “the full support of the council and I believe of staff as well” and that he expects “operations of the city to continue smoothly with her as acting city manager.”
No public discussion has been made on a city manager search.
Deschenes’ contract states her performance review will come on or before Aug. 16, six months after her start date in the position. If promoted to permanent city manager, Deschenes’ increased salary could range from $131,185 to $149,223, the contract states.
Similar to Bush’s contract, Deschenes is an at-will employee for an indefinite term and may be removed by the City Council at any time, with or without cause.
If she’s not promoted to city manager on or before Aug. 16, she’ll be offered the opportunity to return as assistant city manager with all her accrued leave intact, unless her employment is terminated, the contract states.
If terminated as interim or permanent city manager, her contract states she’ll receive six months base salary and six months of continued health insurance coverage.
Bush’s severance agreement gave him six months of pay at $60,000, along with $23,256 in unused vacation time and 12 months of paid health insurance.
Deschenes began working with the city in 2014 as senior planner and served as assistant to the city manager before being promoted to assistant city manager.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in park and resource management from Kansas State University and a master of business administration degree from Benedictine College.
She also completed the Senior Executive Institute from the Weldon Cooper School of Public Management and the Northwest Women’s Leadership Academy.
For more information about the Sequim City Council, visit www.sequimwa.gov or call 360-683-4139.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].