Mukilteo’s mayor behind shakeup at City Hall

MUKILTEO — When running for office last fall, Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said that her top priority was to reshape City Hall.

She’s holding to that promise. The city administrator and two top public works officials have been let go since Gregerson took office in January.

Gregerson made no secret of her intention to eliminate the city administrator position, contending it wasn’t necessary in a city of Mukilteo’s size — about 20,000 residents — when there’s a full-time mayor. Joe Hannan, who held the administrator position for six years, was let go in January. Hannan was paid $118,000 per year.

Former finance director Scott James, who was hired under the previous administration, recently left on his own to take the same job in Edmonds.

Mukilteo is paying a consultant $11,000 to study the city’s executive department and human resources functions and recommend a structuring plan. Mukilteo has never employed a person with the title of human resources director, Gregerson said. Those duties were handled by executive assistant Shirley Engdahl until her retirement last year. Former Mayor Joe Marine had discussed hiring a contract HR manager.

“I’m hoping to get these experts in there to help us figure the most efficient way and the best way to provide that service and lead the city,” she said.

As for her own job, Gregerson doesn’t expect that description to change. She inherited Marine’s salary of $70,800 per year.

She said she’s been working about 60 hours per week.

“I signed up for the job as described, at the salary it was at,” Gregerson said. “I’m definitely not looking for more money. I ran to be a full-time mayor and that’s what I’m doing.”

In public works, superintendent Marc Larson and assistant city engineer Jim Niggemyer were let go about three weeks ago.

Larson was second in charge under public works director Rob McGaughey and had been with the city for about 10 years, Gregerson said. Niggemyer had worked for Mukilteo for about six years.

“They weren’t terminated for cause,” McGaughey said.

McGaughey, hired last year by Marine, had new ideas for those positions, and Gregerson agreed. They’re looking for people with different skill sets.

For the engineer position, “we want to have a capacity to do design work in house, do our own engineering work,” as opposed to hiring contractors, he said.

The former superintendent spent a lot of time in the field, and officials are looking for “more of a management type of position, more of a true manager than a guy who actually turns a wrench,” McGaughey said. “We have people who are union employees who do all the work (in the field) already.”

It’s part of a shift toward more thorough planning, McGaughey said. For example, while there are priority lists of sidewalk projects and road projects, there isn’t a procedure for making sure those lists get followed.

Often, a sidewalk will be built or a street repaired on a complaint basis or if grant money is available rather than according to an established priority, he said.

Also, in the planning department, a three-quarters position is being added to do technical mapping and design work, Gregerson said.

“We have a great opportunity to shape the team that’s leading the city and I’m excited about where we’re going,” she said.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; bsheets@heraldnet.com.

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