Former Mill Creek finance director offered new role

Jeff Balentine has been assigned deputy city manager and internal auditor. The position was created last month.

Jeff Balentine (City of Mill Creek)

Jeff Balentine (City of Mill Creek)

MILL CREEK — Former Mill Creek Finance Director Jeff Balentine has been offered another high-ranking position at the city, less than six months after he stepped down due to what he called “philosophical differences” with municipal leadership.

City Manager Michael Ciaravino has assigned Balentine the title “deputy city manager and internal auditor,” a job created in December to replace the position of Ciaravino’s chief of staff, according to a recent news release from the city.

The former chief of staff, interim employee Grace Lockett, was laid off because she did not apply for the new position, according to the news release.

Lockett, who began working for the city early last year, was paid more than $150,000 annually.

Ciaravino faced harsh criticism from city employees and others in the community when he chose last summer to lay off longtime staff members while keeping Lockett and another interim employee on the city payroll. He hired both of the women after working with them at past jobs in other states.

Balentine’s resignation came in August, just days before former former Mayor Pam Pruitt abruptly resigned.

He returned last fall, saying he would at least work until the city approved its next biennial budget, spent federal coronavirus relief funding and completed a routine audit.

“I do see some good positive things going on, so that’s why I’m back,” Balentine told The Herald in September. “If we keep moving forward in this positive way, I’m hoping it’s long-term.”

The Mill Creek City Council voted to create the new deputy city manager and internal auditor position at Ciaravino’s request at a Dec. 8 meeting.

The position would allow the city to have someone “in-house,” other than the finance director, who would ensure that the city is in line with its own administrative code, state law and best practices in accounting, Ciaravino said. The person chosen for the job would also perform Ciaravino’s role if the city manager were to be terminated by the council or otherwise become unable to do his job.

“Paying attention to the city of Mill Creek’s most recent history, nobody likes to think they’re replaceable, but I think the more humble approach is to understand that we’re all here and we serve at the pleasure of the council,” Ciaravino said. “If the good lord takes me away, there’s got to be a plan for continuity.”

Ciaravino said at the meeting he intended to post the position online and also hoped to receive applications from current city staff.

“There’s one internal applicant, in particular, that if they apply, they are going to be the candidate to beat, just to be perfectly transparent,” he told the council on Dec. 8.

That night, he introduced the city’s new finance director, Laurel Gimzo.

Balentine was assigned the new position on Jan. 1, according to the city news release, issued last week. He has not yet accepted the offer.

“Mr. Balentine is currently on approved leave and is scheduled to assume the new post upon his return,” the news release says.

The annual salary for the position ranges from about $121,000 to $159,000 under the city’s eight-tier employee pay plan.

A previous version of this article inaccurately stated the current position of Mill Creek employee Jeff Balentine. The story has been revised to correct the mistake.

Rachel Riley: 425-339-3465; Twitter: @rachel_m_riley.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Carpenters from America and Switzerland build the first "modular home" made from cross-laminated timber, inside a warehouse on Marine View Drive on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Affordable housing’s future? Innovative home built in Everett

Swiss and American carpenters built the nation’s first “modular home” made of cross-laminated timber.

Houses at the end of the 2100 block of 93rd Drive SE in Lake Stevens used to front a forest. Now the property has been clearcut to make way for a new Costco store near the intersection of Highway 9 and 20th Street SE. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald)
Lake Stevens councilmember says he profited off Costco deal

Until now, Marcus Tageant would not confirm his role in the multimillion-dollar sale of acreage that is soon to be a Costco.

Police: Student, 13, falsely accused classmate of making threat

The student alleged the classmate called to say there would be a shooting at Hidden River Middle School.

Lake Stevens resident Rick Trout shows a Feb. 2020 photo of the rising lake level in front of his home after a storm. (Isabella Breda / The Herald)
Some Lake Stevens homeowners now must buy flood insurance

Updated FEMA maps show some lakeside homes now sit in a designated flood hazard area, due to a warming climate.

Preston "Buddy" Dwoskin served as the head referee at the inaugural Buddy Bowl football game two years ago at Everett Memorial Stadium. (Contributed photo) 20211203
Anti-bullying ‘Buddy Bowl’ game set for Saturday in Marysville

Preston Dwoskin, a public speaker with special needs, organized the football festivities. He would like you to be there.

Everett Community College's Dennis Skarr sits in front of a 15-foot interactive wall that can replicate a manufacturing company's assembly line, hardware, software and networks on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021 in Everett, Washington. A class taught by Skarr focuses on cyber threats against manufacturers, pipelines, water treatment systems and electrical grids.(Andy Bronson / The Herald)
At EvCC, ‘The Wall’ teaches students how to thwart cyber crime

The Everett college is first in the nation to have a tool that can model cyber attacks aimed at vital infrastructure.

William Talbott II pleads his innocence before a judge sentences him to life with out parole at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Wednesday, July 24, 2019 in Everett, Wash. A Snohomish County judge sentenced William Talbott II to life in prison without parole, for murdering a young Canadian couple in 1987. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Cold-case murder conviction reversed due to juror’s bias

William Talbott, the world’s first convicted forensic genealogy defendant, was accused of killing a young Canadian couple in 1987.

Brian Holtzclaw (left) and Tim Schmitt.
Recount confirms Holtzclaw’s re-election to Mill Creek City Council

In Stanwood, a machine recount validates Tim Schmitt beat City Councilwoman Judy Williams by 5 votes

Girl, 1, dies from gunshot wound near Granite Falls

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office deputies were investigating the weapons assault report Saturday night.

Most Read