Mill Creek city manager on paid leave pending firing

MILL CREEK — The City Council intends to fire the city manager here but won’t say why. City Manager Ken Armstrong says he doesn’t know, either.

The council put Armstrong on paid leave Tuesday. It intends to fire him at the end of December.

The vote was unanimous, with all seven council members present, according to a news release issued by the city on Wednesday.

The resolution that removes Armstrong from the city’s top job states that the city attorney will draft a separation agreement.

Armstrong was placed on paid leave through Dec. 30 after a two-hour executive session Tuesday to discuss his job performance. The council then voted in public session. Finance Director Landy Manuel was appointed acting city manager. Until the end of the year, Armstrong will draw a $144,200-a-year salary.

In an interview late Wednesday, Armstrong said the council did not give him a reason for the firing or raise any concerns about his job performance.

“It was a very one-sided process,” Armstrong said. “I was hurt by the lack of communication.”

Mayor Pam Pruitt would not discuss the council’s decision, citing consideration of Armstrong’s privacy. She said she does not expect Armstrong’s departure to affect city budgeting. A public hearing on Mill Creek’s two-year budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

Armstrong said he has had some disagreements with the mayor and City Councilman Mark Harmsworth, who resigned Tuesday evening, effective Dec. 31. Harmsworth is on his way to the state House of Representatives.

Armstrong speculates that friction related to things he has written for publications and planning for the city’s biennial budget may have played roles in his firing.

Harmsworth said he could not comment on the circumstances that led to Armstrong’s firing due to privacy concerns. He was the head of a committee that interviewed city staff and council members about Armstrong’s job performance, but Wednesday he declined to share the results.

City Councilman Mike Todd also declined to comment on Armstrong’s termination except to say he felt it was a “tough day” for Mill Creek. City Councilwoman Donna Michelson echoed that sentiment.

“I’m personally very sorry the relationship between the city and Mr. Armstrong didn’t work out,” she said.

Armstrong started as city manager in December 2012. He previously worked for Seattle Public Utilities and served in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Before the city manager can be terminated, state law requires the council to give Armstrong at least 30 days to request a public hearing. If he asks for a hearing, the council will have to take further action to remove him from the job.

Otherwise, Armstrong’s termination is effective Dec. 30. He said he has not decided whether he will request a hearing.

Armstrong’s employment contract calls for severance pay. He will get three months of salary, minus his time on paid leave.

As acting city manager, Manuel will be paid a 10 percent premium on his $116,556-a-year salary until a new city manager is named.

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; Twitter: @AmyNileReports.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A grave marker for Blaze the horse. (Photo provided)
After Darrington woman’s horse died, she didn’t know what to do

Sidney Montooth boarded her horse Blaze. When he died, she was “a wreck” — and at a loss as to what to do with his remains.

A fatal accident the afternoon of Dec. 18 near Clinton ended with one of the cars involved bursting into flames. The driver of the fully engulfed car was outside of the vehicle by the time first responders arrived at the scene. (Whidbey News-Times/Submitted photo)
Driver sentenced in 2021 crash that killed Everett couple

Danielle Cruz, formerly of Lynnwood, gets 17½ years in prison. She was impaired by drugs when she caused the crash that killed Sharon Gamble and Kenneth Weikle.

A person walks out of the Everett Clinic on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Everett Clinic changing name to parent company Optum in 2024

The parent company says the name change will not affect quality of care for patients in Snohomish County.

Tirhas Tesfatsion (GoFundMe) 20210727
Lynnwood settles for $1.7 million after 2021 suicide at city jail

Jail staff reportedly committed 16 safety check violations before they found Tirhas Tesfatsion, 47, unresponsive in her cell.

Diane Kay Thompson, center, listens during their sentencing at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Marysville woman sentenced to 2 years for running over, killing husband

Diane Thompson pleaded guilty to manslaughter. “My home was taken, my daughters hate me and I have no money to my name,” she said.

The Marysville Municipal Jail is pictured Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Marysville weighs mandatory jail time for repeated ‘public disorder’

The “three strikes” proposal sets a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail for crimes like public drug use and trespassing.

Cash is used for a purchase at Molly Moon's Ice Cream in Edmonds, Washington on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
County Council delays vote on requiring businesses to take cash

Concerns over information and enforcement postponed the council’s scheduled vote on the ordinance Wednesday in Snohomish County.

Thrill-seekers fly through the air on a ride during opening day of the Evergreen State Fair on Thursday, August 24, 2023, in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Evergreen State Fair attendance dips 9% from 2022

Slightly over 228,000 people attended the fair this year in Monroe, down from 253,000 last year and 355,000 in 2019.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
New fire east of Darrington closes stretch of rural road

The Tenas Creek fire, which started late last week, was 90% contained Wednesday after burning 38 acres.

Most Read