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Is Yelm City Hall in a management crisis?
Where is Yelm’s City Council on Mayor Harding’s handling of city affairs?


Mayor Ron Harding

With the resignation of two key longtime City of Yelm staff members within months of each other:
– Projects Manager Stephanie Ray last December and
– City Administrator Shelley Badger giving notice last June to be gone September 1st after a stellar 30 year career, the general consensus of many are asking,
“Is Yelm City Hall in a management crisis?”

Let’s examine the facts:
– Yelm City Administrator open position not posted for replacement
Yelm City Administrator Shelly Badger worked for the City of Yelm for 30 years having been appointed in 1993 to City Administrator, a post she has held for 22 years. She presided over Yelm becoming one of the fastest growing cities in the county and state while working for six mayors. She led the City’s economic development and water resource planning efforts, represented Yelm on the South Thurston Economic Development Initiative (STEDI) committee and participated in the South Sound Military & Communities Partnership Steering Committee.

The Nisqually Valley News reported on August 14, 2015:
“the city administrator position largely operates as support for the mayor, Harding said. Rather than fill the position immediately, he said he’s taking time to evaluate exactly what the city administrator’s responsibilities should be, as it’s been a long time since the city has had to hire someone for the position.”

Editor’s note:
For Mayor Harding to suggest the City Administrator was just someone who largely operated “as support for the mayor” is a degradation to the highest paid staff on Yelm’s payroll (over $130,000 a year). Anyone owning property or a business within the city limits should be concerned about this statement from Mr. Harding, yet even more than this, they should be concerned about a City Council that does not reign-in the mayor!
Mr. Harding should have posted the Yelm City Administrator position to be filled back in June!

– How is Mayor Harding handling the City Administrator functions?
Harding told the NVN:
“‘Technically, we don’t have to have that position filled,’ he said. ‘That position is there to help me manage the city. And so it’s just one of those things, just trying to get my arms around what to do, how much responsibility, where are the key functions that serve the city. … We don’t have any of it sorted out right now.'”

Editor’s note:
Excuse me, Mr. Harding?
You say, “That position is there to help me manage the city.”
This position of the City Administrator is the highest paid city employee and the one person managing the city’s daily affairs.
In this form of government, the mayor is the policy-maker leader, not the city’s admin. director.
Parceling out duties of the Projects Mgr. & City Administrator to other staff who have enough on their plates with the growth in this town is not wise nor fair to them, either.

– Mr. Harding does not have enough fingers to plug the holes in the dike!
Harding was quoted in the NVN, “We’re lacking the project manager’s position [and a City Administrator] in a time when we have as many or more projects as we’ve ever had going on in the city … Those are, I think, really crucial positions that we don’t necessarily have in-house expertise to cover,’ Harding said. ‘We’re covering, but we don’t necessarily have people who are subject matter experts, which is what you like to have as key personnel in those positions.”

– Is Mayor Harding taking any salary for his handling of City Administrator functions?
I put this question to Mr. Harding and he said, “I am currently not taking any additional salary to assume these duties, nor would I be able to take any additional compensation without an action of the City Council.” The Yelm City Council needs to immediately address the issue of the mayor assuming duties of a Project Manager and City Administrator on his annual Mayor’s salary of $30,000 and is he going to ask for more salary? Is he assuming these other functions gratis, which is also not proper? Does he have sights on the City Administrator’s $130,000+ annual salary?

– Mayor Harding is way beyond his expertise in handling City Hall functions –
Where is the Yelm City Council in reigning in Mayor Harding?
Mr. Harding does not have the training, background or managerial experience to be a Projects Manager and/or City Administrator. For Mayor Harding to not have posted the Yelm City Administrator and Projects Manager positions to begin seeking interviews for qualified replacements, while he is performing the UNPAID duties of City Administrator functions, is a travesty to the citizens of Yelm.

– Mayor Harding is on more-than-double committees than other City Council member –
Why? A truly trained/qualified manager delegates to other Council members

* Thurston County Economic Development Council
* Thurston County Mayor’s Forum
* TRPC Transportation Policy Board
* Yelm Finance Committee
* Yelm Emergency Operations Board
* Yelm Transportation Committee
* Yelm Economic Development Committee
* To be appointed as leader of the Yelm Lodging Tax Advisory Committee as of this evening

– Who is to take on the City Administrator’s duties on these committees – Harding?:
* Yelm Economic Development Committee (Harding is fulfilling his role on this committee and the City Administrator’s?)
* Yelm’s water resource planning efforts
* South Thurston Economic Development Initiative (STEDI) Committee
* South Sound Military & Communities Partnership Steering Committee.

– I call for Yelm’s City Council to reign-in Mr. Harding’s dictatorial rule here and post the City Administrator position immediately!

Posted by Steve on August 25, 2015 at 6:06 am | Permalink

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