December 9, 2009 in Business, City

Spokane’s top economic development official resigns

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Citing concerns about her inability to “change the culture” at City Hall, the city’s top economic development official has submitted her resignation.

Theresa Sanders, Spokane’s planning, community and economic development director, announced her decision to Mayor Mary Verner on Nov. 24. Her last day will be Dec. 18.

“Although my time with the city has been at times satisfying and productive, and the potential for achieving great work is an exciting idea, for some time now I have become less hopeful about achieving that potential,” Sanders said in her letter of resignation. “My hopes of helping change the culture have not been realized and I find it increasingly difficult to make meaningful, rewarding contributions to the organization.”

Attempts made to reach Sanders for comment were unsuccessful Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

Despite Sanders’ contention in her letter, City Administrator Ted Danek said Sanders continued to make meaningful contributions. He pointed to her work on the University District, International District along East Sprague, Kendall Yards and other projects.

“She’s had a huge impact, and it’s all been positive,” Danek said.

Sanders, a 1978 North Central High School graduate, was hired by former Mayor Dennis Hession in 2007. From 2004 to 2006, she was the executive vice president of business development for the Spokane Area Economic Development Council.

Besides economic development, departments overseen by Sanders include planning, building services, community development and historic preservation.

Verner also has a hole to fill for the job overseeing city real estate. Real Estate Director Kay Bachman resigned effective Nov. 24. She had only been on the job since July.

Sanders earned about $118,700 a year. Bachman earned $86,500.

Danek said Verner is considering a possible reorganization to deal with the departures. The city appears likely to avoid layoffs for 2010, but the city expects to have another deficit to deal with in 2011.

“We’re looking at the functions they accomplished and will decide if we want to continue to do business as usual,” Danek said.

A decision on reorganization could be announced next week, he said.


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