Carnation hires interim city manager, recruits for permanent candidate

Following the retirement of City Manager Phil Messina March 27, the city of Carnation welcomed interim city manager Bob Jean to the staff on Monday, April 17.

Jean, a lifelong resident of the west coast, has experience managing cities and counties both large and small, as well as experience launching a new city.

“I retired in 2010 from University Place after 15 years,” Jean told the Record by phone last week. “I was their first city manager.”

He was also the first manager for the city of Newcastle (which was actually named Newport Hills briefly, making him the first and only manager of the city of Newport Hills, he noted), and worked at Puyallup full time. Since his official retirement in 2010, he’s also served as interim city/county manager for Lake Forest Park, Normandy Park, San Juan County, Bothell, as well as communities in Oregon and Alaska.

Jean expects to help the city as interim manager for the next six months. The city council just began the process of finding a recruiter last week, he said, and estimated the city would select a recruiter by the end of May. He said he hoped the council would be interviewing manager candidates by late Augusts, and have someone in place by mid October.

In the meantime, he’s “drinking from the firehose” to become familiar with city operations, and looking ahead to some of the city’s immediate needs.

“My task as the interim (manager) is essentially two parts: One is to keep things running, not just put thing on hold until the new manager gets here; the second thing is to put together the budget for 2018.”

Among the things he’s looking to keep on track are the work on the city’s Tolt Corridor improvements. The project, is more than half designed now and he expected it to be at 90 percent by fall, when the city could advertise for bids. The roughly $4.5 million project will require significant grant funding.

He’s also concerned that the maintenance budget for city streets seems inadequate.

About the city itself, though, he has no reservations.

“The entire staff, I’m very impressed. It’s a small staff, but they’re very capable.”

The Carnation city website is www.carnationwa.gov.

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