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City Council decides to rely on staff in interim rather than extending city manager’s contract

Councilmembers John Whiddon and Bob Standford attended the Kodiak City Council meeting on April 11, 2024 via Zoom. Councilmember Rich Walker was absent for this meeting.
(Davis Hovey/KMXT)
Councilmembers John Whiddon and Bob Standford attended the Kodiak City Council meeting on April 11, 2024 via Zoom. Councilmember Rich Walker was absent for this meeting.

Kodiak’s City Council decided not to extend City Manager Mike Tvenge’s contract at its regular meeting on Thursday, April 11. Tvenge will retire at the end of this month on April 30 and the City of Kodiak plans to rely on current staff in the interim until a new manager is hired.

Council members were expected to postpone voting on Tvenge’s proposed employment agreement until they could speak with him in person, following public concerns and contentious meetings about the contract. Tvenge is currently out of town and not expected to return to Kodiak until later this month.

But Councilmember Annika Woods went a step further and asked for the agreement to be postponed indefinitely, effectively quashing any chance of Tvenge staying on as an interim manager.

I do not make this motion lightly. I make this motion after careful consideration from over the past week. I make this motion with the intent of the city manager’s contract ending at the end of this month [April] as it currently stands, allowing our deputy manager to act as acting city manager until we hire a replacement city manager,” Woods stated.

Woods went on to say this would be in the best interest of the city and save Kodiak money in the coming months. But Councilmember Charlie Davidson argued that removing the manager’s proposed interim contract would cost more money in the long run, especially since negotiations have not taken place between the Council and Tvenge.

“We’re going through an extended period of busyness for municipal building, infrastructure, improvements and stuff. He’s [Tvenge] got a construction background. Good luck finding a guy that is going to be your interim city manager with a construction background and a knowledge of what we’ve been evolving over the last five years,” Davidson told his fellow council members.

Davidson described it as a failure on the City Council’s part to let Tvenge go without at least trying to negotiate with him first. Ultimately the Council didn’t have enough votes to postpone Tvenge’s employment agreement indefinitely, but the group did reject his proposed employment agreement to become interim manager in May with a salary of $304,330.

The Council also passed an ordinance to clearly define the role of an interim manager and the duration of their duties at Thursday’s meeting. Kodiak resident Aileen Fitzgerald, and several other members of the public on social media, expressed concerns over how Tvenge’s proposed pay raise and the changes to the interim manager job lined up.

“It’s not that I have a problem with creating the position [interim manager]. I have a problem with the purpose, the appearance of why it was created, and perhaps your intentions for how you’re going to give it to someone who’s retiring,” Fitzgerald said earlier in the meeting.

The City Council will still need to approve an interim city manager during an upcoming meeting. It is likely that Deputy City Manager Josie Banke will temporarily fill that role after Tvenge’s departure post-April 30.