February 11, 2010 in Washington Voices

Council OKs Jackson

Will serve as acting city manager
By The Spokesman-Review

The Spokane Valley City Council made it official Tuesday and approved a contract naming Mike Jackson acting city manager. Jackson has been the city’s deputy city manager for two years and has been filling in for former city manager Dave Mercier after he was asked to resign in January.

The contract calls for Jackson to make $144,000 a year, an increase over his $131,962 annual salary as deputy city manager. He will also now receive a monthly car allowance of $400.

The agreement also stipulates that Jackson can return to his deputy city manager position. His new salary will continue for two months after a new city manager is hired and if the new city manager fires him within six months, Jackson will receive six months severance pay. He will also be allowed to take an additional five days of vacation after a new city manager is hired.

The council must also make a decision within the next six months to either hire Jackson as the permanent city manager or begin a search for a replacement. That allows the city time to explore its options, said city attorney Mike Connelly. “This is a temporary agreement,” he said.

Council member Rose Dempsey expressed some reservations that the salary was too low and said she didn’t want the salary to negatively affect any future negotiations for a permanent appointment as city manager. The salary is lower than the previous city manager’s $175,362 a year.

The council also heard an update on negotiations with Spokane County to obtain a railroad right-of-way that would allow for the extension of Appleway. For years the sticking point has been the county’s desire to keep a 28-foot strip of the land for a rapid transit system. In the past the city has been reluctant to grant the land because in some places the right-of-way is only 50 feet wide and there wouldn’t be enough land left to build a road unless the city bought more from other landowners.

Who pays for those “pinch points” has been the root of the disagreement, said Connelly. “It’s been kind of a convoluted process,” he said. “An awful lot of time was spent arguing about what we said and what we meant.”

Now is the time for the city to set previous disagreements aside and move forward, he said. Negotiations for the right-of-way are expected to be the main topic of discussion during a joint meeting with the Spokane Valley City Council and the Spokane County Commissioners on March 8.

In other business, Mayor Tom Towey changed which council members were assigned to a couple of committees. Towey had assigned council member Dean Grafos to the Greater Spokane Inc. board, but was notified by former mayor Rich Munson that the group’s bylaws required the mayor to serve. Grafos was switched to the Spokane Transit Authority board in Towey’s place. Dempsey will now serve on the International Trade Alliance board instead of council member Brenda Grassel.

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