Roger Neumaier has resigned as Edmonds Finance Director effective the end of this month. In his resignation letter, he cited “lack of respect and civility” by some on the Edmonds City Council.
Asked by My Edmonds News to elaborate on specifics, Neumaier said that this behavior is not limited to one councilmember nor is it directed strictly at himself. He stated that many of the city’s directors face similar treatment in dealing with councilmembers.
“To name an individual in this case would be to lower the discussion to allow all that I find unproductive” Neumaier said. “I’m not the only director who faces this kind of atmosphere. I think the problem requires some overall organizational changes rather than focusing on specific persons.”
Neumaier said he felt that the professional directors who work for the city are not always treated with the respect for their professional capabilities. “Edmonds has one of the finest groups of dedicated professional department directors anywhere around,” he said. “To be treated as if we are incompetent in our jobs and questioned about our abilities can be very disheartening.”
“I have been doing government accounting for two decades and have developed a level of expertise,” he added. “I try and stay in the background and not make issues into a personal power-play, but more into just doing the right thing.”
Neumaier mentioned that his fear is that Edmonds’ professional staff will have a hard time filling positions with the best-qualified people and the “working environment” is perhaps even more important than money when recruiting and retaining high-quality staff.
Neumaier said he didn’t feel the difficulties were of a personal nature but more because of a lack of respect for the professionalism for the city’s staff. By mentioning the topic in his resignation, he hoped that it might benefit the city to have the issue brought to the forefront.
Neumaier is near retirement age and doesn’t need to stay in a job where he feels uncomfortable, he said. He was an English major in college and thinks this might be an opportunity for him to refocus his efforts — maybe even write a book.
— By Harry Gatjens