December 10, 2009 in Business

Spokane economic official steps down

Sanders oversaw several departments
By The Spokesman-Review

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

Theresa Sanders, director of planning, community and economic development, 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 to reach Sanders for comment were unsuccessful Tuesday and Wednesday.

Despite Sanders’ contention in her letter, City Administrator Ted Danek said she continued to make meaningful contributions. He pointed to her work on the University District, the 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 in 2007 by former Mayor Dennis Hession. From 2004 to 2006, she was the executive vice president of business development for the Spokane Area Economic Development Council.

Besides economic development, Sanders also oversaw the planning, building services, community development and historic preservation departments.

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 reorganization to deal with the departures. The city appears likely to avoid layoffs for 2010 but expects to have another deficit 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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