McDonald to continue as Puyallup city manager another year

Staff writerFebruary 12, 2014 

Puyallup City Manager Bill McDonald is once again extending his stay in Pierce County’s third largest city.

McDonald, who came out of retirement in August 2012 to run the city’s day-to-day operations, tentatively plans to hold the post for another year.

“I enjoy it,” he said of serving the city. “The organization is great, so why not” continue.

McDonald said his contract is open-ended, and although the job’s timeline has evolved his goals have remained constant. He said he is “having a good time” serving as a bridge between the public and the Puyallup City Council.

City spokeswoman Melanie Harding said McDonald’s extensive background in city administration has been a valuable addition to the staff. She said several of his predecessors lacked similar experience in city manager roles.

“We just really like him,” Harding said of McDonald.

McDonald was added to the staff after a split vote in the summer of 2012 ousted former city manager Ralph Dannenberg. 

The majority on the council said they had lost trust in Dannenberg while the others argued he was let go unfairly. The issue resulted in a wrongful termination lawsuit before the city settled with Dannenberg to avoid litigation.

With McDonald at the helm, city departments have seen organizational shakeups. Some of the most politically charged changes were made to parks and recreation, where management and programs were restructured to increase efficiency. The changes resulted in fewer part-time jobs and elimination of one low-interest program, The Attic for teens. 

Last January, the Puyallup City Council voted 6-1 to extend McDonald’s time with the city through the end of the year and hire him full time. He made $219,559 last year, an amount that included a $153,500 base salary. Finance Director Cliff Craig said McDonald's salary is by contract and remains the same for 2014.

McDonald told The News Tribune that he drafted a list of about 36 priorities that he hopes the city can make progress on in 2014.

He noted that it was up to the council to set the agenda at their annual retreat Wednesday night, but he was ready to carry out the vision.

McDonald doesn’t “want to get ahead of them,” but he predicts transportation improvements, maintaining a healthy budget and building relationships with schools, the Washington State Fair and South Sound 911 are some important priorities this year.

Puyallup Mayor John Knutsen asked the city manager to return this year, and said McDonald has done a great job smoothing out the finances of the city.

“He is very fair and works well with all of the council members,” Knutsen said.

Kari Plog: 253-597-8682
Follow Kari on Twitter: @KariPlog

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