Council names John Handeland interim city manager
Current City Manager Tom Moran tendered his resignation with 30 days’ notice at a special meeting Sept. 17. Because Moran will be vacating his office in three weeks, and the search for his replacement is still young, the Council altered its agenda Monday evening to discuss hiring an interim manager.
Word was that the panel knew who they wanted. Nevertheless, they futzed around briefly over a list of available hopefuls on a substitute managers list from the Alaska Municipal League’s website. “I have gone over five of these interim city managers. Wow! We don’t need any of those,” Andersen said.
The Council unanimously appointed John Handeland, utility manager, to serve also as Nome’s interim city manager.
Handeland has served as manager of Nome Joint Utility System since 1999 and before then, as Nome’s mayor for 14 years.
“John Handeland has had lots of experience running the City,” Councilman Mark Johnson observed. “And he has tremendous public trust,” Mayor Richard Beneville added. Handeland did not attend the meeting, as he was out of town attending a meeting of the Iditarod Trail Committee.
“Nome is a good place with great people. I’m appreciative of the dedicated managers, department heads and employees who have served or now serve our community. We’re at a little bump in the road, and I’m humbled the Council asked me to assist on an interim basis,” Handeland said in an e-mail. “Together we will rebound. I do appreciate Tom’s dedication, and recognize he planned to move on, just at a different pace than the Council has now determined.”
The Council is counting on Handeland to run the search for city manager candidates along with Bryant Hammond, city clerk.
The Council urged that ads for the manager position appearing on Alaska Municipal League, City of Nome and International Association of City Management websites be dressed up.
“Advertisements for the manager position is woefully lacking,” Councilman Jerald Brown said. He wanted additional ads placed in the Anchorage newspaper, Nome Nugget, Seattle papers and the online ads made more professional.
The City is advertising the position at $90,000 to $110,000, depending on experience.
“I don’t think we are going to get anyone for $110,000,” Andersen said. City staff will research to see what comparable municipalities are paying.
Councilmen Mark Johnson and Adam Martinson will work with the City’s attorney on details of Handeland’s hire as interim manager.
Meanwhile, the Council attempted to place on hold any hiring of new employees during the short remaining tenure of City Manager Tom Moran. That motion failed. However, consensus said it was not likely that an Emergency Services director currently sought would turn up for hire before the transition to John Handeland as interim city manager.
In other business, the Council voted to give the Nome Joint Utility System a tool with which to collect overdue accounts. A new ordinance adopted unanimously, allows the City to place liens on real estate property and personal property in order to secure funds owed upon its sale.
Additionally, the Council also adopted unanimously an ordinance allowing the City to place liens on personal property to secure unpaid personal property tax.
The measures put liens, but do not produce money, Mark Johnson pointed out.
A recent bill, Senate Bill 100, restores language in state statutes giving local municipalities the ability to file liens for municipal debts, including utility bills, but the City of Nome had to amend City laws to allow the City to use liens as a collection method. The NJUS Board unanimously passed a resolution at its Aug. 21 regular meeting recommending the Council authorize establishing liens on property to secure past due utility fees.
The state law also allows liens as tools to collect the costs of abatement of rundown or abandoned buildings.
The majority of delinquent personal property tax accounts are from Port of Nome customers who do not understand the distinction between storage fees and taxations, according to City staff.
In yet other business, the City announced the 2018 Fall U-Call, We-Haul period for cleanup Oct. 8 through 12. Dump trucks will be at the Icy View Fire Hall and at the Recycling Center (across form NAPA Auto Parts.) People are encouraged not to throw stuff on the ground around the dump trucks and be considerate of Public Works Dept. while staff is preparing for winter workloads.
“Coffee with the Chief” will meet Monday at Mini Convention Center from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. to give the public the opportunity to meet the new leader of the Nome Police Dept., Bob Estes.