Sammamish council appoints interim city manager; begins search for replacement

Larry Patterson began his role Aug. 28 and brings more than 40 years of experience in municipal government in Oregon.

Larry Patterson. Photo courtesy of the city of Sammamish

Larry Patterson. Photo courtesy of the city of Sammamish

At its Aug. 23 special meeting, the Sammamish City Council began its search for a new city manager with the appointment of an interim manager and a vote to begin the process of filling the role with a long-term employee.

Council voted to approve a contract with Prothman, a recruitment services company that has provided the city with an interim manager while they work on the search for a long-term replacement.

Larry Patterson was appointed as the interim city manager and he will work with the city as it moves forward on the budgeting process while they also work on finding a long-term city manager. Patterson has more than 40 years of experience in municipal government in Oregon as the city manager for Bend and interim manager of Florence, Creswell and Ashland. Patterson began in his role Aug. 28.

In discussion over the contract, council member Ramiro Valderrama was concerned that bringing someone in from outside of the organization — who doesn’t know the staff and has to work on the budget — would not be ideal. Council member Chris Ross disagreed, stating that a fresh perspective and different background would be helpful in the budget process.

Council member Jason Ritchie also voiced opposition to the contract, stating that he did not see a reason to spend additional resources and time to contract an interim city manager when their current acting city manager, Glenn Akramoff, has been doing a great job in that role for the past month and a half.

“I’m very concerned about staff and their perception about what we are doing,” Ritchie said. “I’m concerned that we are bringing new people, changing gears, letting people go and moving people around on a whim.”

The contract was approved in a 4-3 vote, with Valderrama, Richie, and council member Pam Stuart voting against it. Council also approved an additional motion allowing the interim city manager an expenses budget of up to $4,000 in another 4-3 vote.

Council then discussed and unanimously approved an agenda bill retroactively setting acting city manager Akramoff’s annual salary at $167,703. The agenda bill also sets the termination of the acting city manager contract to the date when the interim city manager began his role, which means the total cost to the city was $9,786.

From that point, council discussed possible direction to give to staff on how to proceed with the search for a long-term city manager. Ritchie proposed a motion to have a three-person group of council members work with staff to develop a request for proposals (RFP) to look for candidates for the open position.

Council member Tom Hornish opposed the idea and said it would be better to have staff prepare an outline of the process and bring it back to them so the full council could give its feedback. Mayor Christie Malchow also added that she had hoped the council would put out an RFP for a professional search firm that would work with the city to determine what it wants out of a potential city manager and then would conduct that search on its own.

Ritchie did not support using a search firm, but reiterated that regardless of the method used he wanted to have a concentrated group of council members advise the process. He proposed that council look at both options and for those options to come back at their next meeting on Sept. 4 for further discussion.

The motion for the three-person council group to advise the process was approved with a 4-3 vote, with council members Hornish, Malchow and Ross voting against it.

The next Sammamish City Council meeting is scheduled for6:30 p.m., Sept. 4 at Sammamish City Hall, 801 228th Ave. S.E.

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