Chief Gaddis will fill in while Normandy Park seeks interim city manager

by Jack Mayne

Even though City Manager Glenn Akramoff’s final day is Dec. 31, he is just providing information and not making executive decisions while the Normandy Park City Council reviews how to find his replacement and fill the other executive job vacancy of city finance director.

The Council met in a special session Thursday night (Dec. 18) to figure out how to handle filling the vacancies and how to deal with the “involuntary resignation” of City Manager Glenn Akramoff. Nothing was said at the Council meeting about the reasons for the termination of Akramoff.

“This is a special meeting called and I just want to say in the beginning that I know that the topics we are going to be talking about tonight come as a shock to many people and I know there’s a lot of emotions,” Mayor Susan West said. “I completely understand that. My job tonight is to make sure that this meeting runs as smoothly, efficiently and professionally as possible so everyone involved can move on.”

West said the Council had to accept of the “involuntary resignation” of Akramoff and approval of a severance agreement.

The city manager’s contract specifies he is to receive six months of his annual $126,000 salary as severance pay. The money will be paid in six monthly payments so as to “help the city’s cash flow,” said attorney Scott Snyder of the Ogden Murphy Wallace law firm in Seattle which acts as Normandy Park’s city attorney.

The official resignation date is Dec. 31st to give overlap time for questions and problems that an interim manager might need to have answered.

During the period from now to when he leaves, Akramoff will be available to answer questions but will not exercise any other executive powers, said Snyder. He will be here to assist the Council’s immediate choice as, in effect, the person acting as the acting manager.

The five Councilmembers attending the session Thursday night unanimously accepted Akramoff’s resignation and approved the severance agreement. Then they unanimously approved a two-prong method be used, including a search firm and the state City Manager Association to look for candidates for interim city manager. The Council also approved a similar process be used to find an interim city finance director.

Seeking an interim manager
The Council then took up the question of who would find the interim city manager and who to fill the city’s vacant finance director position.

Snyder said he talked on an informal basis with the Prothman Co., a national municipal management search firm headquartered in Issaquah. That firm would charge about $84 an hour to pay for an interim city manager plus the Prothman cost of finding three candidates for the city to consider for the interim job. If the city did not like any of the candidates, the company would look for others.

Police Chief Chris Gaddis

Mayor West said the immediate acting interim acting city manager, Chief Gaddis, would be in charge while they found a qualified interim manager to run the city until a new permanent city manager is found and hired.

Councilmember Kathleen Waters said she did a bit of general research and said she spoke with a person with the Washington City/County Management Association who lives in Lakewood, Pierce County, and is available now. Waters said the man is retired “and he works as a city manager.” He was recently acting city manager of Port Townsend and acting county manager for Island County.

Snyder said he had heard the person’s name and good things about him.

West said she thought it would be better to go with a recruiting firm, “because that is what they do.” But she said the individual that Councilmember Waters talked with “sounds like an interesting option.” She suggested finding out if the city could interview both the Prothman firm and the individual Waters found.

Snyder said the council should decide the direction they wanted to go and look for some answers to be available at their first meeting in January.

Dual approach
Councilmember Shawn McEvoy said he preferred the “dual pronged approach” suggested by the mayor – a search firm and looking themselves for candidates.

“Give ourselves some latitude,” he said.

Councilmember Mike Bishoff said he agreed with the two-prong approach but how should they spell it out?

Councilmember Waters indicated an interest to hurry the process along because of staff concern about an abrupt change in management plus less than expected cost of living increases granted by the city’s new biennial budget.

West suggested Waters continue with the individual and the city manager association while she would work with Prothman to see what they can do to “sent the tentative goal” to get all the information together by the week of Dec. 29, noting little probably can be done Christmas week.

“If Police Chief Gaddis is willing to hold on a little longer with multi-tasking, perhaps that is an option,” West said.

West said since Akramoff stayed for such a short time, about 18 months, that the contract written for him would include recruiting services for Normandy Park’s new city manager would be without cost. The Council also approved working with that firm, Colin Baenziger and Associates of Daytona Beach Shores, Fla., to find a permanent city manager.


6 Responses to “Chief Gaddis will fill in while Normandy Park seeks interim city manager”
  1. When I was at the meeting when this situation was being discussed there was a very uneasy feeling in the room regarding the entire situation. I suspect the council had their reasons for getting rid of the City Manager but we might never know them.

    At one point during the meeting one of the Council members asked Chief Gaddis if he could handle the duties of the City Manager for the next week or so or perhaps until the end of the year until a temporary Manager is hired. When the Chief answered his question it was clear in his answer that he was “fishing” for a raise in pay. UNBELIEVABLE. The City is in temporary turmoil and all the Chief can think about is profiting.

    I think this is disappointing.

  2. Robin May says:

    Carol’s comment is one of the problems we have here in our fair city, that of assumption and hearsay expressed as truth.

    I was at the meeting Thursday night and agree that there was an uneasy feeling in chambers. Of course there was, a handful of people, our City Councilmembers, have made a huge decision that will affect each resident of the Park. And only they know the exact reasons they voted to let Mr. Akramoff go; all we get is what the Severance Agreement states, “due to differences in management style and philosophy”. And for this we will spend $$$ on a severance package + the costs incurred in finding an interim replacement/permanent replacement and time cost bringing said replacement(s) up to speed.

    But to throw Chief Gaddis under the bus is disgraceful. He was asked a very serious question and his reply reflected the need for him to give serious thought before answering it and if he had known the question prior to that moment I can bet he would’ve been prepared to answer it.

    The only disappointment I see here is in dragging good people’s reputations through the mud.

  3. Pappy says:

    They hadn’t even finished the meeting announcing him as “Acting City Manager” and he’s wanting to know if he can be interim manager after Dec 31st…

  4. Pappy says:

    By the way, Mr. Mayne, this is an excellent summery of 12/18’s council meeting, thank you for your attention to detail.

  5. Brad Mcall says:

    So because the now fired City Manager appointed the Police Chief to the Acting City Manager position he gets to stay there? The prior City Manager was let go because he made bad decisions. Maybe appointing Gaddis to Acting City Manager was another bad decision.

    This rookie Police Chief with about two years experience has no experience being a City Manager. He has no financial or budgeting experience. This is a disaster waiting to happen.

    The Mayor along with the City Council should act now to relieve the Police Chief of his City Manager duties. Don’t wait until something bad happens and then say “we should have”.

    Act now.

  6. Normandy Park Resident says:

    Police Chief Gaddis had been a police officer in Normandy Park for 20+ years. When our last Chief of Police, Rick Keifer retired, Assistant Chief of Police Gaddis was appointed our Police Chief.

    We are fortunate to have our own Police Department and even more fortunate to have Chris Gaddis as our Chief of Police. He deserves more respect than some of you have given him.

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