Port Townsend lays off city finance director to cut costs; he moves over to Jefferson PUD
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Michael Legarsky, 61, has taken a similar position for the Jefferson County Public Utility District.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — City Manager David Timmons is consolidating two positions, saying he wants to make city government more efficient, and in the process has laid off a department head who was immediately scooped up by another agency.

Michael Legarsky, who had served as the city's finance director for 16 years, was laid off as of March 31.

He was hired for a similar position at the Jefferson County Public Utility District.

“I've known Michael for years,” said Barney Burke, PUD commission president.

“He's a hard worker with a lot of integrity and is what we need to move forward.”

Legarsky, 61, had been on medical leave since December after heart surgery. Deputy Finance Director Corena Stern is serving as director.

Legarsky is earning $100,000 at the PUD. He had earned $91,322 working for the city.

He replaces David Papandew, who is leaving his position as finance director, Burke said.

“We were lucky that Michael was available and that he already knew how to use the software we had purchased” for the electrical utility that the PUD began operating April 1, Burke said.

Said Legarsky: “The PUD is going through a major change. This is a challenge to get everything set up, but I am ready for that challenge.”

Timmons said laying off Legarsky is part of his strategy to reconfigure city government.

He is consolidating the finance director position with that of the city clerk's into a new director of administrative services position.

“This is part of a plan to make us more efficient and getting the middle managers to take more responsibility for their jobs,” Timmons said.

“This creates a proving ground if they ever want to move into a department head job.”

The consolidation brings the number of department heads down from seven to six.

In 2011, Timmons consolidated the Parks, Development Services and Planning departments into the Public Services Department.

Currently, 89 people work for the city, a number Timmons expects to stay consistent.

Timmons said he plans to create the administrative services position and then determine who would fill it.

“When we announce the position, we will open it up, but there are many people on staff who will be eligible for any new positions,” Timmons said.

City Clerk Pam Kolacy and Stern are among those who could apply for the position, he said.

He said he hoped to have the administrative services position filled later this year.

Timmons, 61, also brought up the issue of retirement.

He said that though several employees are eligible for retirement — which includes the city clerk, who is 67 — none has announced plans to do so.

That includes Timmons. He said he had no plans to retire but added that “the council needs to begin working on a succession strategy for all departments.”

Timmons said the current generation of department heads should stay on as long as possible because younger people, those in their 30s and 40s, are less interested in public service.

So he wants to create a hospitable work environment to encourage senior staff to stay on beyond retirement age.

“People need to enjoy their jobs,” he said. “If they don't, there is no reason to not retire.”

The city staff of the future needs to be more versatile than their predecessors since decreased financial resources make it necessary for them to diversify their abilities, Timmons said.

“At one point, people were stuck in certain 'silos' where they would only do one thing,” Timmons said.

“Since there aren't as many people interested in public service, they have to learn how to do more.”

Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 18. 2013 6:07PM
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