Minutes after a Monday night special session where Interim City Manager Scott Hugill was named a finalist for the full-time city manager position, Mountlake Terrace Police Guild President Heidi Froisland addressed the Mountlake Terrace City Council on behalf of the guild, announcing a unanimous vote of no confidence in Hugill as city manager.
“This vote not only serves ourselves, but all city employees, and most importantly, the citizens of Mountlake Terrace,” Froisland said. “We need a city manager who supports police services. We need more police officers. We need fewer administrators.”
This is not the first complaint the guild has brought to the council in recent months. In January, the guild informed the council of a decline in the number of officers, but an increase in the number of calls for service.
The complaint on Monday night echoed January’s remarks. In recent years, the department has downsized from 29 patrol officers and three administrators, to 18 officers and four administrators.
“The timing of this letter is deliberate, as the City Council must select a new city manager,” Froisland said. “Mr. Hugill is a candidate for the position, but he displays few of the traits you have stated you are looking for in the ideal candidate.”
Froisland also presented concerns raised previously, as early as 2011, about Hugill’s honesty and other issues raised by entities other than the police guild.
In an interview last week, Froisland said she was planning to present the council with the guild’s complaint Monday because she has tried to reach out to them to express her concerns, but only got calls back from two city councilmembers. She said they told her over the phone that they could not discuss her complaints because of ongoing negotiations. Mayor Smith and Councilmember Kyoko Matsumoto-Wright were the only two city councilmembers who did not name Hugill as a choice for the final three in the search for a new city manager.
Froisland said she does not want to create hostility between the guild and the city, but she felt she had no other way to discuss her concerns about Hugill.
“I don’t want to blindside them (council),” Froisland said last week. “We want to provide them with all of the information. I don’t want to seem adversarial, that is what we are trying to avoid.”
Froisland’s speech also happened on the same day the Mountlake Terrace Police Department gave their first quarter report.
In the first quarter of 2016, there were 3,354 calls for service. That is over 100 more calls than the 3,246 calls for service in the same time period last year.
There has also been a significant decrease in the number of traffic stops and traffic infractions. In 2016, only 1,183 traffic stops were performed, compared to 1,977 in the same time period last year. Only 618 stops resulted in traffic infractions compared to 1,132 in 2015.
During her comments, Froisland said the Mountlake Terrace Police Department is consistently being asked to do more with less.
Shortly after Froisland made her comments, however, another member of the public spoke in favor of Hugill.
“My interaction with the current interim city manager has been amazing,” Mountlake Terrace resident Sally Buckingham said. “He is considerate. He listens. He follows up and he interacts well with the community.”
Hugill said during a presentation on the levy lid lift that the City Council agrees with the police guild that more officers are needed, and that if the levy lid lift is approved by voters, the City Council will have more money in the general fund that could possibly be allocated to police.
Hugill was one of three finalists selected for the permanent city council manager position during a special meeting before Monday’s regular council meeting. The three were selected from a pool of 40 applicants which a recruitment firm was able to narrow to eight. Some of those eight dropped out. Council reviewed the final five during an executive session and then voted on the final three. More about the three finalists can be read here.
Also on Monday night, the council:
- Approved a 44-cent levy lid lift to appear on the primary ballot on Aug. 2. A portion of that — 25 cents — will go toward parks maintenance and the rest –- 19 cents — will go toward paying rent on the Interim City Hall while the city creates a plan and constructs a new permanent City Hall. The levy lid lift passed 5-2. Councilmembers Seaun Richards and Bryan Wahl cast the dissenting votes.
- Approved an agreement between the Cheeseburger Babies Foundation and the City of Mountlake Terrace for an Independence Day Celebration at Ballinger Park on Sunday, July 3.
–By Natalie Covate