Stanwood’s hiring of former Marysville administrator a temporary measure

STANWOOD — Former longtime Marysville city administrator Mary Swenson plans to attend her first Stanwood City Council meeting tonight as the temporary city administrator for Stanwood.

Swenson is set to work 16 hours a week at a rate of $70 an hour. Her work will include moving the city through its upcoming budget process and labor negotiations, and the search for additional fire-fighting help.

A contract employee with Prothman, a Seattle headhunting firm, Swenson plans to be on the job until Dec. 31 or until the city runs out of the $22,000 set aside for her work.

For more than a year, Stanwood Mayor Dianne White has reported to City Hall most mornings to help city staff before she heads to her day job as a pharmacist. White, who is paid $1,100 a month for part-time mayoral duties, returns to her desk at the city during her lunch hour and then she’s back after her pharmacy shift ends in the afternoon.

“There have been some long days. It’s just been a matter of trying to help keep the balls up in the air. The city may be small, but the challenges we face are the same as those in larger jurisdictions,” White said. “To be honest I don’t have the experience nor the time to be the executive point person for the city. We haven’t had a city administrator since April 2010.”

That’s when the mayor fired the city’s administrator because White decided the city needed a different style of management. Lagging tax revenues, however, didn’t allow Stanwood officials to hire another administrator, so the mayor stepped in.

City clerk Melissa Collins has frequently phoned the mayor at the pharmacy to get her direction on a variety of subjects.

“The mayor often put in what amounted to full-time hours at City Hall as well as at her job. But we couldn’t go to her all the time,” Collins said. “We are happy to have interim administrator Mary Swenson’s help to accomplish some tasks that need to get done.”

At the end of Swenson’s service, White hopes to get from the new interim city administrator a report on administrative responsibilities and staffing needs, a development plan for each city department and a recommendation about how the city can better offer services that encourage economic development.

Swenson, 54, retired from her job with the city of Marysville more than a year ago. Since then she has done some work for Prothman and the consulting firm Strategies 360.

“I love to work with cities and am excited about Stanwood,” Swenson said. “It will be good for the health of the city.”

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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