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Mayor announces new Gig Harbor city administrator at council meeting

The Gig Harbor City Council, not including councilmember Ken Malich, during the first council meeting of 2018.
The Gig Harbor City Council, not including councilmember Ken Malich, during the first council meeting of 2018. dchastaine@gateline.com

A new, temporary Gig Harbor city administrator was named by the mayor and a four-month contract was approved by Gig Harbor City Council unanimously during Monday’s meeting.

The new, temporary administrator will be Tony Piasecki, who has 30 years of city administration experience under his belt. Most recently, Piasecki worked as a temporary city manager for the city of Burien. Piasecki also worked for the city of Des Moines in recent years.

During the mayor’s comments portion of the agenda, Mayor Kit Kuhn discussed the search for a new city administrator after relieving past administrator Ron Williams during the beginning of Kuhn's term. The city’s finance director, David Rodenbach, has been wearing two proverbial hats while serving as the interim city administrator for the past couple of months. Assistant city clerk Shawna Wise announced her resignation in the past week, leaving the city short another staff member.

“I would like to thank Dave that has been working closely together with me,” Kuhn said, reading a prepared statement he wrote previous to the meeting. “I feel we have made a lot of progress moving the city forward from the previous administration. We have made a lot of changes … and accomplished a lot. But we still have a lot of work to do.”

Kuhn said the city hired a recruiting company in recent months to help find a qualified candidate for the new, permanent city administrator position. The company is expected to find a candidate for hire in four to six months, but with Wise resigning, Kuhn noted he felt there was an urgency to fill the administrator role sooner than later.

KUHN 3 low res.jpg
Gig Harbor mayor Kit Kuhn.

“This will free Dave Rodenbach to be the finance director,” Kuhn said. “I have found an excellent city administrator. Tony Piasecki is one of the best in the South Sound … he is a proven leader and possesses the experience we need to guide us through this transition period. As mayor, I have the authority to hire who I desire to work with.”

The mayor added the proposed contract to the agenda for council approval. During discussion, councilmember Jim Franich expressed concerns about the short-notice regarding the new hire. Kuhn said he gave the contract to city council Monday afternoon to review before the council meeting that evening.

“I would have like to have met the guy,” Franich said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Franich also commented on a $500 per month travel stipend included in Piasecki’s contract. Kuhn said he approved the stipend because Piasecki lives “on the other side of the bridge” and will not be using a city vehicle during his employment in Gig Harbor. City staff agreed with the mayor that the stipend was not an unusual practice.

Piasecki will not be the permanent city administrator and will likely not be considered for the permanent role, Kuhn said. The contract is set to be renewed on a monthly basis until the city is presented with a contract for a new, permanent candidate.

Councilmember Spencer Hutchins said he had a chance to meet Piasecki and was impressed with him and his experience. Kuhn said he had the authority to bring the contract into executive session in an upcoming meeting, but chose to have the city put it on the public agenda for transparency. The council voted unanimously to approve the mayor to sign the contract with the city and Piasecki. He will start his role as the new interim city administrator in a couple of weeks.

AN UPDATE ON THE RESIDENTIAL MORATORIUM

Gig Harbor Senior Planner Peter Katich gave a presentation to update the city council and residents on the work plan for the current residential development moratorium which was passed by the council at the beginning of the year.

The moratorium, set at the Feb. 13 city council meeting, states “a six-month moratorium upon the receipt and processing of subdivision applications and applications for building permits and other land use development approvals associated with residential development.”

Katich said the city and Sound Municipal Consultants have worked together to create a list of possible amendments to the current moratorium and a work program.

“The city council’s Planning and Building Committee … voted two-to-one to amend the moratorium … which clarifies the moratorium for vested projects and allow all pipeline projects to submit for building and construction permits.”

Katich said city staff has created three groups of code amendments for council review. Group one, what Katich referred to as “low-hanging fruit," will be brought to the council for approval at the April 23 meeting. Katich said Tuesday the amendments will clarify some exception to the moratorium and will be further discussed April 23.

No action was taken on the moratorium during Monday’s meeting. Amendments to the moratorium are expected to be presented to council during the April 23 meeting and action will be taken then.

OTHER BUSINESS

The council voted to approve an ordinance to update Gig Harbor Municipal Code 15.07 titled “ Base Plans for Residential Structures.” The update would require applications for base plan permits be made digitally to the city. The current code requires applications to be submitted on paper. The council made no comment on the matter and no public comment was taken. The city council took no action since this was the first reading of the new ordinance. An action will be taken in an upcoming city council meeting agenda.

Danielle Chastaine: 253-358-4155, @gateway_danie
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