EDITOR, Daily News:
After 26 years of service, Ketchikan City Manager/KPU General Manager Karl Amylon has retired. We wish him well, and his work on behalf of the city deserves acknowledgment and appreciation. The community now has an opportunity to take a deep breath and consider what it wants for the future of Ketchikan.
As it discusses the appointment of a new manager, I urge the City Council to:
• Go through a transparent, thorough, rigorous hiring process. Generally, it is a good thing to develop and promote in-house personnel from an existing network of managers; the current way of thinking and continuation of the way things are. But this is also a chance to bring in fresh perspective and expertise. Let us go through a process at least as rigorous as that underway for the vacant police chief position, for which the city has recruited both internal and external candidates, getting a larger pool and following a methodical hiring process. Let us not do any less for the important city manager position. Let us avoid the appearance of back-room politics that undermines public trust.
• Restore the separation of the city manager and KPU general manager positions. Though both report to the City Council, the municipality and the utility are distinct entities with different service areas, budgets, income streams and missions. Overseeing both is too big a job for one manager and both organizations suffer for it. Combining the management was a 1990s experiment instituted as a cost-saving measure, but it has not served anyone well.
• Uphold the City Charter requirement that the city manager must live in the city. The leader of a community should be a part of it. Residing in the borough, a manager could not exercise the right to vote on city issues in the are that they administer. Let’s not tamper with the charter’s intent and lose valuable time hiring administrators. Residence is a condition when accepting the manager’s position. Rip off the band aid and amend the charter with new job and residency clarification.
A special meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Sept. 9 at the Ted Ferry Civic Center to discuss replacement of the city manager. This is a decision that will affect every person, every business and every industry within Ketchikan. Make your voices heard in person at meetings on the subject, or email to the city clerk’s office.
MARY. L. STEPHENSON