City manager receives high marks from council
by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim city councilors believe City Manager Steve Burkett is doing a great job.
They recently reviewed Burkett's first year and found the results to be "overwhelmingly positive," said councilor Ted Miller.
Burkett received especially high marks in responsiveness to councilors and citizens, organizational skills, interpersonal skills, leadership, knowledge base and fiscal responsibility.
Mayor Ken Hays said he has no real criticism of Burkett.
"I gave him a near perfect score on every account," Hays said.
"We haven't had a lot to compare to Steve's caliber in the past. His professionalism and expertise is hard to find fault with."
Councilor Don Hall said Burkett's overall experience is what's impressing him.
"He knows how to get things out of people and he shows his experience in the way he talks," Hall said.
Burkett appreciates the councilors' kind words.
"It was great to hear their comments," he said.
"Instead of an A-plus, I was hoping for a B-plus because it's going to be hard to live up to those standards," he joked.
Burkett's average score ranked 9.2 and the lowest was an 8.1.
Each councilor met individually with facilitator Dave Mercier to speak freely but only minor flaws were found.
Councilors summed it up that Burkett needs to outreach more to other agencies such as the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe and communicate accomplishments and information to the public better.
Recently Burkett hired Barbara Hanna to help with the city's outreach and publicity.
Hall said past councilors felt the city managers didn't get out in the community enough and Hanna could help.
"We wanted to make sure Steve did those things," Hall said. "He does do those things, but it's tough to do those things. Now Barb can fill in on some of those needed things."
Miller said one of the reasons council members feel Burkett isn't communicating at optimum is because Burkett isn't one to brag.
"The city council, staff and police know he is doing a great job and the man on the street knows things are going smoothly but they don't think about it or have the behind-the-scenes perspective we do," Miller said.
To help with outreach, Burkett plans to hire a written survey company in spring 2011 for a citizens questionnaire on a number of city services, satisfaction with service and safety levels, etc.
Some of Burkett's accomplishments in 2010 include:
? Established strategic plan/team building/goals process with city council
? Prepared balanced 2011 budget
? Developed long-range financial plan
? Evaluated leadership team and made changes to strengthen the team and improve departmental results
? Terminated police remodel project; developed plan and negotiated leases for city offices until new City Hall and police facility are constructed. Narrowed City Hall search to one site
? Provided leadership to get water reclamation grant back on track
? Implemented new Transportation Benefit District
? Developed downtown plan proposal
? Improved transportation and parks outlook with adoption of impact fees
? Focused attention on Battelle (Pacific Marine Science Research Laboratory) as a top priority regional economic development opportunity
An obvious disruption for Burkett and staff has been department leaders like Bob Spinks, former police chief; Frank Needham, former capital projects manager; and Dennis Lefevre, former planning director, leaving the city.
Hall said he was kind of surprised by the terminations, but Burkett's reasons have been acceptable and well-explained.
Miller said there's been some controversy over the decisions.
"There are some good reasons why they left but even then some people aren't going to believe that," Miller said.
Hays believes Burkett is making tough decisions.
"It's not our job to hire and fire staff. I have great confidence in his decisions and I stand by those decisions."
To reach Steve Burkett, call 683-4139 or visit Sequim City Hall at 152 W. Cedar St.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.