Scott Hugill named new City Manager for Mountlake Terrace

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    Scott Hugill was selected as the new City Manager for the City of Mountlake Terrace. (Photo by Teresa Wippel)

    After what was described as heated executive sessions on Saturday and Monday, the Mountlake Terrace City Council voted to make Scott Hugill the new City Manager for Mountlake Terrace in a 4-3 split vote during Monday night’s regular meeting. Mayor Jerry Smith, Mayor Pro Tem Rick Ryan and Councilmember Kyoko Matsumoto-Wright cast the no votes.

    After Hugill was selected, Ryan made a motion for the council to unanimously support the new City Manager. It passed with a 6-1 vote, with Mayor Smith dissenting.

    Hugill was selected from a pool of three finalists. The other two were Jill Anderson, city manager of Riverbank, Calif. and Richard Leahy, who was recently the city manager of Woodinville.

    Hugill has been the Interim City Manager since September 2015. He has held the position of Interim City Manager before and has worked for the City of Mountlake Terrace for over a decade. Two weeks ago, the Mountlake Terrace Police Department presented a vote of no confidence in Hugill to the City Council.

    Hugill’s appointment is pending an employment contract with Hugill under “mutually agreeable terms.” That contract is now being negotiated with the city attorney.

    Councilmember Seaun Richards said he supported Hugill because he believes he has the best plan to fix the city’s budget problem.

    “I think if he executes his plan in time, it will work,” Richards said after Monday night’s meeting. “And we are going to hold him accountable.”

    Candidate Jill Anderson had, in previous cities she managed, made major cuts to city services, pay for city employees and eliminated city police departments, which Richards said concerned him. Richards said he found out what she had done in previous cities through independent research.

    Richards also appreciated Hugill’s seniority within the city.

    “Scott has been in Mountlake Terrace for 13 years now,” Richards said. “He served three times as the interim city manager. Twice he was asked to apply for the city manager position but didn’t want to.”

    Correction: A previous version of this story said that Jill Anderson had shared a plan including cuts to city services and eliminating the Mountlake Terrace Police Department. The story was corrected on Thursday, May 19 to show that those are the types of actions she had taken in previous cities.

    12 COMMENTS

    1. I am sorry Hugill was selected. We definitely needed new ideas, new “blood” in our city. Good for you Mayor Smith! I commend you for your vote. Unfortunately we can now move on to more “same ole”, “same ole”.

    2. I am a late-comer. So why is it a City Manager is needed? Wasn’t the fiasco in Flint, Michigan caused by a “City Manager”? Why does MLT need a city manager when there is a respectable mayor in place? Did any citizens (i.e. taxpayers) get a vote in this decision? Andno police department? MLT has one of the BEST police forces around. Really…!! My questions are serious…

    3. The Mayor needs to vote what he honestly feels is the best thing for the city. That is part of the problem w/this city. Everyone on council is a “yes” vote without thinking ideas through and listening to the residents of MLT. What is really needed, wanted, and what is in the best interest of the city long term should be the driving force of all council votes.. There is no one more honorable than Mayor Jerry Smith. And that you can take to the bank.

    4. There is now open disagreement between council members about who should take over day-to-day management. The answer is a long-time city staff member who has been on the inside of the decision-making processes which gave us a Downtown plan that is proving no where near the success promised. The same people brought us the budget “crisis” which now supposedly requires a massive new property tax to solve.

      There is a lot more to our budget mess than just the mistake of paying city hall rent unnecessarily for over 8 years. That neither our police nor our public works department has any confidence in the leadership of Mr. Hugill must say something.

      There is a culture issue at city hall, but it is a culture which neither staff nor council will own. For years before Arlene Fisher was hired it had been hard to get consistently straight answers to bottom line questions about planning and budgetary issues from city staff or city council. Her tenure was short because she gave straight answers even when she wasn’t supposed to be so forthcoming.

      Apparently council can’t even agree about what is actually happening. Hopefully somebody starts connecting the dots. The question is, however, who would that be. I appreciate Kathy Peterson’s wisdom concerning moving beyond the “same ole, same ole”, but council members since 2001, Mayor Smith and council woman Sonmore are hardly new blood.

    5. 1. The levy lift being proposed would need to be approved by the voters. Those same voters have had ample opportunity to replace current Council members with “new blood”, and have declined to do so.

      2. The levy lift to be voted on is 44 cents per $1,000 of assessed residential property valuation. For the average MLT SFR that increase would be $112 per year, or little more than $9 each month.

      3. Doing some math and using the average MLT SFR 2016 property tax bill of $2,635, a passed levy lift would increase the average MLT SFR property tax bill by 4.2%. To be clear, this increase is described by Mr. French as “massive”.

      Nine additional bucks a month is not massive. Voters preferring not to pay it can vote against it.

    6. As values are increasing rapidly, the average value of each home in Terrace would be well in excess of $300,000 by next year when this new tax would hit property owners. This new levy of 44 cents per $1,000 of value would be an increase of $132 per year. Of the current $2,635 cited, only 20% or about $515 is revenue to the city. That city portion would rise to $647 ($515 + $132) annually. Even if the tax increase per household were ONLY $132, that is a 26% increase in the city’s portion of our total real estate tax bill.

      Voters can do their own homework to determine what the likely increase in the city’s portion of their property taxes will be and whether they think 26% is massive or trifling. They can at the same time pass judgement on the wisdom of the leadership which dug the hole they now want us to fill.

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