Council mulls hiring interim city manager

Kennewick's permanent city manager may be as close as the person in the chair next to the mayor's.

City council members discussed Tuesday whether they should spend approximately $34,500 to launch a nationwide recruitment effort or simply stay with Marie Mosely, who has been interim city manager for 3 1/2 months after the resignation of Bob Hammond.

Mayor Steve Young and Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Brown have been working with city staff since September to develop a recruitment strategy, which they now believe might be unnecessary.

Mosley, who also is director of support services, has "unified the council and brought a harmonic balance," said Councilman Bob Parks.

"The more we got into the process, the more it became apparent we have the right person already," Brown said.

Young said he and Brown both struggled with the process of developing a recruitment plan because Mosley seemed to be qualified enough to have the job permanently.

"We kept this behind closed doors until now," Young said.

But councilmen Don Britain and John Hubbard said the council owed it to the citizens to go through a recruitment process, just to be sure.

Britain said it would be wrong for the council to stop the process after voting months ago to do a formal recruitment and evaluation of job candidates.

"We have to go through due process. We don't want this to look like this is a deal done behind closed doors," Hubbard agreed.

Councilmen Paul Parish and Bob Olson said the city has had good success hiring from among its own employees, and shouldn't stray from doing it again.

The council will consider what to do at its next meeting on Jan. 4, when it could simply short-cut the process and decide to offer the job to Mosley.

Also Tuesday:

-- Heard from legislative lobbyist Phil Watkins about measures being pursued when state representatives meet in January in Olympia. Topics include legislation to deal with gangs, ambulance utility subsidies, repealing non-resident sales tax exemptions, changes in requirements for hospitals' certificates of need and proposed bills to ban issuing driver's licenses to people living in the state illegally.

-- Talked about requiring public hearings before issuing conditional use permits.

-- Received an update about the joint committee of the city and Port of Kennewick on priorities for the Bridge-to-Bridge area along Columbia Drive.

"I truly believe we can find a project we can agree on. Together, we can do so much more than we can do separately," Mosley said.