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UPDATED Tacoma: Council’s report card gives Anderson mixed reviews, as contract extension nears

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on July 11, 2011 at 12:47 pm | 17 Comments »
July 11, 2011 6:56 pm

(6:40 p.m. Update at end of post)

Tacoma City Manager Eric Anderson won praise for his budgeting skills, staff recruitment and a strong understanding of how state and federal issues relate to the city, according to his latest report card from Tacoma City Council.


“The (City Manager) still remains highly capable of managing the budget during challenging economic times,” the evaluation says.

But council members also criticized Tacoma’s chief administrator for failing to develop a clear economic development plan for the city, and at times, for keeping them in the dark about significant city issues.

“There is major concern about economic development leadership by the City Manager and at the Senior Management level,” the evaluation states.

The city manager’s 2011 performance evaluation, which covers Anderson’s work from July of last year to the present, is a collaborative but anonymous document that incorporates critiques submitted from all nine of the city’s elected council members.

Commentary at times was mixed, even contradictory, providing Anderson with a range of feelings about his performance in six major categories. The council’s current evaluation provides only written feedback; a point-ranking system was dropped two years ago.

(We’ll have more details tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s the full report card.)

Required under the city’s charter, the evaluation is a precursor to city policymakers’ decision of extending Anderson’s contract, which expires this month.

The council is set to consider an 18-month extension for Anderson at Tuesday’s regular meeting, but questions linger about what might happen.

This year’s evaluation appears more critical than last year’s report card.  It provides a mixed-bag of commendations and criticisms, including several disapproving remarks about a string of recent issues – from developments in the Zina Linnik case to procedural “missteps” in the Cheney Stadium renovation project.

“Some Council members rate the relationship between the (City Manager) and Council as good, but in decline,” the evaluation noted.

Councilwoman Lauren Walker today described the evaluation as a strong guideline for Anderson, adding she doesn’t believe his contract extension will be an issue.

“My experience is evaluations always have a mixed area of praise and areas of needs of improvement. And this evaluation reflects that,” Walker said.

Several other members have not yet returned calls today. Councilman David Boe declined comment.

In a prepared statement issued Monday, Anderson called his job a “privilege” and accepted the evaluation as a way to improve his performance.

“I am very grateful to the Council for their hard work and candor” he said. “As in previous years, I commit myself to using their appraisal to do a better job.”

Hired in 2005 after serving as Des Moines, Iowa’s chief administrator, Anderson, 65, oversees the city government’s day-to-day operations,  more than 2,000 employees and a $1.7 billion general government budget (including the city’s $399 million general fund), among other responsibilities.

Under his current contract, Anderson earns $236,373 per year, gets 50 days off per year*(see update below) and a $550 per month automobile allowance. Just before a city employee wage freeze kicked in, Anderson took a 17.4 percent pay raise — giving him $35,000 more per year — that he’d previously deferred due to city budget woes. The pay hike made Anderson the city’s second highest paid employee after Utilities Director Bill Gaines.

UPDATE: I’ve misstated Anderson’s time off clause in his current contract.

When Anderson was initially hired in 2005, he received “an initial bank of 50 days of administrative leave,” with an additional 14 days added to this paid time off bank the following year.  He has since accrued time off according to leave accrual formulas under 1.12.248 of the city code, his contract states.



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