Pasco hires city manager

Dave Zabell was chosen as Pasco's next city manager Monday by the city council.

Zabell, the city manager in Fife, east of Tacoma, since 2011, was chosen over former North Las Vegas City Manager Tim Hacker, Battle Ground City Manager John Williams and Flathead County (Mont.) Administrator Michael Pence.

Zabell has the right skills to match in Pasco, Mayor Matt Watkins told the Herald.

"His experience and his ability to crystallize a particular issue was a little better than the other candidates," Watkins said. "He likes to do one-on-ones with people and work through the issues; that's going to be a good skill to have in a city as diverse as ours."

The city manager job, which attracted 26 applicants, was advertised with a top pay of $165,000, but Watkins said Zabell might end up making more than that. They hope to finalize an agreement by next week, and possibly vote on a contract before Monday's workshop meeting.

"His skill level is definitely going to be worth any extra pay above the top limit," Watkins said.

Before going to Fife, Zabell was deputy city manager in Yakima for six years. He has worked in government for 33 years, previously serving in Bothell and Marysville. He has a bachelor's degree from Upper Iowa University and a master's in public administration from the University of Washington.

"His steps of experience cover all the bases," Councilman Bob Hoffman said. "This is a likely logical progression at this point in his career."

Hoffman and Mayor Pro Tem Rebecca Francik were impressed with Zabell's stories of riding 120 miles around town on his bicycle to get to know Pasco and its residents before interviewing with council members.

"He has a nice feel for the community," Francik said. "They responded well to him. He was the right fit."

Councilmen Al Yenney, who was sick, and Saul Martinez, who was on vacation, did not attend the meeting. The vote of the five council members on hand was unanimous, though Councilman Tom Larsen said he wanted to wait to have the vote.

The council also voted Monday to name Deputy City Manager Stan Strebel as the interim replacement for City Manager Gary Crutchfield, who is retiring June 27. Strebel will not receive extra pay, unless Zabell takes more than 60 days to start.

Also Monday:

-- The council rejected all bids for a project to build a 287-foot wall featuring wrought iron fence on Fourth Avenue near West Agate Street after the bids came in at much more than the engineer's estimate of $31,558. The city plans to re-bid the project, but not pay for it using federal Community Development Block Grant money, which deters contractors because of paperwork requirements, Crutchfield said.

-- The council approved an $114,758 contract with KBEC of Richland to build a 559-foot water main extension along Broadmoor Boulevard near Burns Road.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom