Kodiak Island Borough Assembly fires borough manager

A divided Kodiak Island borough assembly recently voted to dismiss its manager who’s held the job for the past five years. It came up to a vote last Thursday following an hour-long closed executive session. 

The motion, called by Geoff Smith, carried 4-3, with Geoff Smith, Dennis Symmons, Aimee Williams, and Scott Arndt in favor. None of the three against the firing spoke up at the meeting. The firing went into effect on Friday morning.

Kodiak Borough Mayor Bill Roberts told KMXT on Tuesday that the reasons were discussed behind closed doors and wouldn’t elaborate. 

“We basically have the right to fire without cause, and that’s what we did,” Roberts said.

According to the mayor, the decision had been a matter of eventuality. 

“It’s something that’s been coming for a while… as Michael Powers will tell you himself, managers live with one suitcase always packed. They’re always getting ready for their next job- they have a shelf life. I think that’s where we’re at right now,” Roberts said.

Roberts said that in the short term, the borough is looking for an interim manager. The hiring process for a new manager is something he expects to take several months. But Dave Conrad, the borough’s director of engineering and facilities would be acting manager until then.

Reached for comment, former borough manager Michael Powers says the outcome wasn’t a surprise. 

“So I would say the handwriting was on the wall when the assembly changed the evaluation forms that they had used previously to evaluate me and made it much touchy-feely and much less technical ability. And I think, like many jurisdictions, they want to have their own borough manager so to speak- someone they pick, and someone they have chosen,” Powers said.

Powers said that only one member of the Borough Assembly that hired him in 2016 is still on the assembly: Dennis Symmons, who voted in favor of his firing. 

Powers said that he would look for work in the private sector, and was also considering finding a similar position in local government.

 

*As a correction, an earlier version of this story implied that the former manager was fired during the borough assembly meeting last Thursday. The firing in fact went into effect at 8am Friday morning.

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