By Ken Reidy
The City of Edmonds is a non-charter Code City retaining the Mayor-Council plan of government under Washington State Law.
Edmonds City Code Chapter 2.10 is titled:
CONFIRMATION AND DUTIES OF CITY OFFICERS
Edmonds City Code Chapter 2.10 does not provide a definition of “City Officers.” “City Officers” are also not defined in City Code Chapter 21 – DEFINITIONS.
The body of Edmonds City Code Chapter 2.10 includes references to the positions of Judge, Hearing Examiner, eight Department Directors, an Executive Council Assistant and the Mayor’s Executive Assistant. The body of the Chapter does not make one reference to the term “City Officers.” I do not know if the Executive Council Assistant and the Mayor’s Executive Assistant are considered to be “City Officers.” For purposes of this article, I am just going to discuss the positions of Judge, Hearing Examiner and the eight Department Directors, as these positions are currently represented in the City Code as being subject to Mayoral appointment and City Council confirmation. These positions MAY be what the title of Edmonds City Code Chapter 2.10 refers to as “City Officers.”
It is possible that the following represents a complete list of “City Officers,” or at least a complete list at the date(s) this Chapter of the City Code was established:
Community Services Director
Administrative Services Director
Development Services Director (Director of Community Development)
Parks and Recreation Director
Public Works Director
Human Resources Director
I am uncertain if the list above should include Finance Director, City Attorney, Building Official, Permit Coordinator, Chief Information Officer or any other positions not included in the list above.
Following is a status report of the positions I have listed above:
– The City Council voted unanimously to make the Municipal Court Judge an elected position on Oct. 25, 2005. Hence, Chapter 2.10 of the Edmonds City Code needs to be updated to clarify that the Mayor no longer appoints, subject to City Council confirmation, the position of Judge.
– Former Mayor Mike Cooper appointed Hearing Examiner Olbrechts & Associates PLLC and the City Council confirmed that appointment on Feb. 15, 2011.
– Former Mayor Gary Haakenson appointed Police Chief Al Compaan and the City Council confirmed that appointment on Oct. 2, 2007.
Effective Jan. 1, 2010, the City of Edmonds entered into a 20-year interlocal agreement with Snohomish County Fire District No. 1 (SCFD #1) to provide fire, emergency medical, and fire prevention services to Edmonds. Hence, Chapter 2.10 of the Edmonds City Code needs to be updated to clarify that the Mayor no longer appoints, subject to City Council confirmation, the position of Fire Chief.
– Stephen Clifton is the current Community Services Director. I have been unable to determine when he was appointed and confirmed, but the June 4, 2002 City Council Meeting Minutes, indicate that he has held this position since at least 2002.
– To the best of my knowledge, the last person to hold the position of Administrative Services Director was Dan Clements. I have been unable to determine when he was appointed and confirmed. I believe Mr. Clements retired in 2008 and the position appears to have been vacant ever since. It is possible that the position of Finance Director is also known as the Administrative Services Director. If so, the Code should be updated to clarify this. Former Mayor Mike Cooper appointed current Finance Director Shawn Hunstock and the City Council confirmed that appointment on Sept. 20, 2011.
– To the best of my knowledge, the last person to hold the position of Development Services Director was Duane Bowman. I have been unable to determine when he was appointed and confirmed, but the February 1, 2002 City Council Meeting Minutes, indicate that he held this position since at least 2002. Mr. Bowman retired in March of 2009 and the position appears to have been vacant ever since.
– Former Mayor Mike Cooper appointed Parks and Recreation Director Carrie Hite and the City Council confirmed that appointment on Dec. 7, 2010.
– Former Mayor Gary Haakenson appointed Public Works Director Phil Williams and the City Council confirmed that appointment on June 22, 2010.
– The last person to hold the position of Human Resources Director was Debi Humann. I have been unable to determine when she was appointed and confirmed. The Aug. 18, 2008 City Council Meeting Minutes indicate that Ms. Humann was Human Resources Manager as of that date. The Sept. 2, 2008 City Council Meeting Minutes indicate that Ms. Humann was Human Resources Director as of that date. It is possible that she was appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council sometime during that time period. The Nov. 22, 2011 City Council approved minutes indicate the City Council eliminated funding for the Human Resources Director position in the City’s 2012 budget.
In summary, a review of Edmonds City Code Chapter 2.10 confirms that this is a chapter of the City’s Code that contains errors and REQUIRES UPDATING.
A reading of Edmonds City Code Chapter 2.10 leads me to conclude that “City Officers” are a critical component of our City Government. The following three reasons support this belief:
1. The positions discussed in Chapter 2.10 require persons with the highest qualifications.
2. The City Council is required to interview the top three candidates for each position prior to the Mayor’s appointment.
3. The Mayoral appointment is subject to formal City Council confirmation.
A review of the status of the positions discussed above provides an opportunity to consider whether or not the City of Edmonds is adequately staffed with the appropriate level of “City Officers.” It is very difficult to balance out the service level requirements of the City’s Code with today’s fiscal challenges. If the City has to operate with fewer “City Officers,” I think it would be wise to update the Code so that all cost savings attempts are consistent with the City’s Code.
The significance of the duties and responsibilities of “City Officers” should not be underappreciated. In my opinion, allowing “City Officer” positions to remain vacant should not result in City employees performing “City Officer” duties who have not been subject to the competitive interview and appointment process nor been confirmed by the City Council to perform such duties.
One specific area I am concerned about is the Development Services Director position that has been vacant since early 2009. This critical position administers the majority of the City’s Community Development Code (ECDC). In my opinion, the Code requires that the person(s) currently performing these very broad duties has been interviewed and confirmed by the City Council. The City must be able to represent to its citizens that these duties are being performed by a person with the highest qualifications.
Department Directors are responsible for carrying out all directives as assigned by the Mayor, including, but not limited to, planning and directing the activities and staff in their assigned department, supervising and evaluating the work processes and assigned staff, controlling the financial integrity of the assigned budget, and insuring the delivery of quality public services. This is required per Ordinance 3279.
I believe a Development Services Director needs to be interviewed, appointed and confirmed by the City Council. If not, the City’s Code should be updated to allow another “City Officer” to administer and enforce the provisions of the ECDC that the Development Services Director is responsible for. This may not be a practical alternative, however, as the position of Development Services Director is a full time position requiring the highest qualifications. I believe the City also needs to address the other vacant City Officer positions, including those of Administrative Services Director and Human Resources Director, as well as any other vacancies that may exist.