5 officials contend for Pasco city manager position

Tri-City HeraldMay 30, 2014 

Pasco has narrowed the list of candidates to replace longtime City Manager Gary Crutchfield to five.

They are Timothy Hacker, former city manager of North Las Vegas, Nev.; Scott Morgan, former administrative services director of Rancho Mirage, Calif.; Michael Pence, county administrator of Flathead County, Mont.; John Williams, city manager of Battle Ground; and Dave Zabell, city manager of Fife.

The city council, with the help of The Prothman Company of Issaquah, chose the finalists from 22 applicants, said Deputy City Manager Stan Strebel.

Two days of interviews are scheduled June 11-12, with a public reception from 7 to 9 p.m. June 11 at the Pasco Red Lion Hotel, 2525 N. 20th Ave., Mayor Matt Watkins said. The candidates will also meet with council, city staff and others who deal with the city.

"Overall, these are the most qualified candidates. Now it's time to see if they fit with our community," Watkins said. "We've looked at their particular qualifications, and the consultant did some interviews. Now we need to get to know the candidates."

The council could approve the hire of a new city manager by the time Crutchfield steps down June 27, Strebel said. However, whomever is chosen may have to give notice to his employer and might not be in place for a month or two.

The council could extend an offer to one of the candidates at the conclusion of the interviews or spend more time digesting its options, Watkins said. It also could decide none are the right fit.

Hacker served as North Las Vegas city manager from 2011-13, according to a Pasco news release.

The Las Vegas Sun reported that the city's mayor praised Hacker for stabilizing and helping turn the town around, but he was criticized by union officials for declaring a fiscal emergency, allowing the city to break labor contracts and force concessions from workers.

Hacker was paid $180,000 when he was hired in North Las Vegas, the paper reported. He previously served as city manager in Mesquite, Nev., from 2006 until he was fired in 2009.

Morgan worked in local government for 38 years and retired from Rancho Mirage in December 2012. He worked for several other cities, including as a police officer in Ventura, Calif.

His degrees include a bachelor's in business administration from Washington State University. His base pay was $189,000 in 2012, according to the website Transparent California.

Pence, Flathead County administrator since 2005, has more than 32 years of experience in local government. His past jobs include serving as city manager in Ocean Shores.

Williams has been city manager in Battle Ground since 2009. He worked with the city of Richland from 1992-2001, serving as senior human resources analyst and labor relations manager.

He made $129,345 in 2012, according to The Columbian.

Zabell, who has more than 33 years experience in government, has been Fife city manager since 2011. He was also assistant city manager in Yakima from 2005-11.

Zabell turned down a raise from his $146,000 annual salary in 2012, citing the ongoing recession, according to the Fife Free Press.

Watkins acknowledges there may be pressure to give the new city manager a higher salary than Crutchfield's base pay of $161,000. The city manager is responsible for about 300 employees.

"I think that's evidence that Gary's been a very good deal for many years," Watkins said. "These are the kind of salary ranges the market has been closer to."

The interviews could include an exercise where the candidates show how they would handle a particular issue, Watkins said.

The city is paying the consultant, Prothman, $19,500 for the search. The agency advertised for applications and reached out to people with known interest in similar positions in the past, Strebel said.

Strebel is planning to retire in the next few years and is not interested in becoming city manager himself, he said.

"I believe it is in the city's best interest to select a city manager that will hopefully have a tenure longer than two to three years, for the stability of the organization," he said.

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service