Politics & Government

Puyallup’s city manager announces he will retire (again) in next six months or so

Puyallup City Manager Bill McDonald is retiring – again.

McDonald has run day-to-day operations in the city of 37,000 for two years on an interim basis, after coming out of retirement to work in Puyallup.

Now he’s asking the City Council to start searching for his permanent replacement so he can “re-enter retirement,” according to a city news release.

The city announced McDonald’s decision Tuesday.

The City Council will discuss recruitment for his successor at its Aug. 12 regular meeting. The Prothman Company, the consulting firm that helped land McDonald, will help the city find a new city manager.

When The News Tribune asked “Why now?” McDonald, 68, responded, “Why not?” He plans to travel with his wife and spend more time with family, including his new grandson.

“There’s nothing about retirement I didn’t like,” he told the newspaper Wednesday. “I’ve got to start working on my bucket list.”

McDonald said the timing is right to leave Puyallup. He will continue leading the way until a replacement is found, which could take up to six months. By that time, he will have finished the 2015 budget and set the stage for his successor to learn the ropes before the next budget cycle.

His exit plan is consistent with what he told the City Council when it extended his contract in January. At that time, he indicated he would stay one more year.

“I feel like I did what I was hired to do when I came here,” McDonald said Wednesday. “I’ve had a good time. This is a really great organization.”

McDonald was DuPont’s city administrator from 2003 until he retired in 2010. He also worked as city manager in Snohomish from 1997 to 2001 and held various administrative positions in Oregon, including a stint as Columbia County commissioner in the mid-1990s.

McDonald was hired after a split vote in the summer of 2012 ousted 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.

McDonald’s contract was for $219,559 this year, an amount that included a $153,500 base salary.

Puyallup saw several organizational changes during his time with the city, most notably in the parks department, where management and programs were restructured last year to improve efficiency.

Mayor John Knutsen said he’s disappointed to see McDonald go.

“He’s by far the best city manager that’s been here since I’ve been here, and probably the best one we’ve had in 20 years,” Knutsen said.

He added that he hopes the city chooses a replacement who, like McDonald, “will work with all seven council members and have the ability to do what’s right regardless of political pressure.”