With Mayor Harding’s comments in the Nisqually News Valley (NVN) this week that diminished the importance of the highest paid Yelm staff position (City Administrator) and puts him in charge of the these duties as well, saying, “We don’t have any of it sorted out right now,” this Yelm Community Blog Editorial of July 13, 2015 is now more pertinent than ever:
The Yelm Community Blog is concerned about public transparency in the mayor’s handling of the transition and appointment of a replacement City Administrator.
On June 5, 2015, Yelm City Administrator Shelly Badger formally gave notice to resign from her position after a stellar 30 year career serving the citizens of Yelm in various City Hall posts. Announcing a new position with a Lacey company, Badger said her last day in Yelm will be September 1.
Since Badger would certainly have accrued vacation time for which she is entitled to use prior to leaving her Yelm post means she will be effectively out of the office by mid-August. Yet, the City of Yelm has yet to post the City Administrator’s position as being open to begin the process to accept applicants’ resumes and subsequent interviews. Therefore, a transition period for Mrs. Badger to train a replacement prior to her departure will not occur.
Badger had recently taken on additional duties with the departure of other city personnel. While city positions such as a Finance Director and Public Works Manager are posted as open, the departure of the City Administrator leaves the city without a daily and hands-on, experienced leader interfacing on many city projects in critical phases for completion, such as the Yelm Ave. E./Hwy 507 overlay, sidewalk replacement on Yelm Ave. W., the Mossman realignment project and Yelm Community Center oversight.
Who is to handle the City Administrator functions?
Mayor Harding should immediately post the City Administrator position publicly AND seek a qualified, interim City Administrator. In a city with a part-time mayor, Mayor Harding is not in a position nor is he qualified to be an interim City Administrator. Further, the mayor can not designate himself as an interim City Administrator without creating an appearance of a conflict of interest, for which he was previously warned by the State Auditor’s Office is his duty to avoid as the city’s leader and highest publicly elected official. If the City Council should go along with this concept, they would also come under scrutiny.
The Yelm Municipal Code (YMC) states:
The position of city administrator shall be filled by appointment of the mayor, subject to the confirmation by a majority vote of the city council, to serve at the pleasure of the mayor. The city at its discretion may specify additional terms and conditions of employment in a written agreement executed by the mayor and approved by the city council. (Ord. 829 § 4, 2005).
2.14.020 Scope of authority.
Under the direction and authority of the mayor, the city administrator shall supervise, administer, and coordinate the activities and functions of all city officers, departments, commissions and boards to implement city ordinances and policies through the effective use of city employees, funds, materials, facilities and time, and shall direct and control the overall operations of the city to assure optimum services to the community. (Ord. 829 § 4, 2005).
This is a wonderful opportunity for Mayor Harding to take decisive action at a critical time, with so many opportunities needing proper guidance as Yelm moves into the future. I support the city’s public process to acquire a professional and experienced City Administrator who has the confidence of the mayor, city council and the community. With perhaps a month from City Administrator Badger effectively moving out of her office, citizens of Yelm and the surrounding area under whose decisions affect so many, deserve no less!