Wenatchee City Council Changes Mayor Duties, Adds Administrator
The Wenatchee City Council is making changes to the power structure at city hall.
Executive services director Laura Gloria is being appointed as city administrator in a move that will enlarge her duties by about 30 percent, according to City Attorney Danielle Marchant.
Marchant told the city council Thursday that overlapping duties would be eliminated by moving Gloria into the city administrator position from the executive services position.
The city administrator position has been in existence since 1995, but has not been occupied since 2005.
The executive services position was created when a voter approved change moved the city from three-person city commission to a mayor and city council structure.
An executive services director was appointed while the city administrator position eventually went vacant.
Marchant said the change will add transparency to the power structure between the mayor and city administrator. She said it was not a major change of the power structure itself.
Mayor Frank Kuntz said the move will not change the form of government.
"We're still operating under the strong mayor form of government," said Kuntz. "The mayor still has the final say in all of those sorts of issues. All we're really doing is changing internally how we operate in adding one level and moving someone around.
Council member Keith Huffaker questioned why the changes, which includes a reduction in the mayor's pay, was coming when the person serving as mayor was changing with Kuntz' retirement.
"Now as we're getting ready to change the mayor's position, now all of a sudden we're changing Title 1. And the mayor's position is going to change a little bit. Therefore, looking at a reduction in pay because of those duties that are going away. And I'm wondering why we're doing this now instead of years ago if this a needed thing that needs to be done."
The changes call for the mayor's salary to be reduced from more than $10,000 a month to $8,500.
In addition, the mayor will no longer be able to fire any key administrator from a position, but must get approval from the city council. Key positions include department heads, city clerk, city attorney and city administrator.
The city council currently affirms to appointment of people to city positions.
Mayor Kuntz said it's important to have the city administrator closely involved in city operations.
"I think two heads are better than one," said Kuntz. "And I think having a city administrator in a position to understand and know all of those things, and then when decision making happens, there are two people having a full knowledge of everything. And the mayor makes the final decision, which is really no different than the way it is today.
Kuntz said requiring city council approval to fire high ranking administrators is necessary at a time when so much is going on with the city, such as the YMCA move and the Confluence Parkway Project. He said the requirement for city council approval could be done away with eventually.
Council member Mark Kulaas made a motion to pass the changes, and was seconded by council member Travis Hornby.
"This is not a small city," said Kulaas. "This Is 35,000 people with a multimillion-dollar budget. And it deserves some level of professional management."
Councilmember Linda Herald said the move would free up the mayor to represent the city in important settings.
"What it does is it frees him up to do what is most important, like the lobbying that we need done in Olympia, the various organizations that he should be involved in. All of those things that are really important for the big picture."
The council passed the move to appoint Gloria to the city administrator by a 6-1 vote with Huffaker opposed.
Councilmember Jose Luis Cuevas and Huffaker voiced opposition about the change to the mayor's salary.
But councilors ultimately approved the mayor's salary change unanimously.
Council member Mike Poirier, who is running for mayor, voted for both changes.
The new salary takes effect at the beginning of the 2024 year with the new mayor.