Council approves contract for new city manager

A new city manager for the City of Homer could be on his way next month now that the Homer City Council has signed off on a contract for their candidate selection.

The council voted earlier this month to offer the job to Rob Dumouchel of Eureka, California, after sifting through a pool of applicants and conducting interviews with three people. This was the second round of searching for a replacement for former City Manager Katie Koester, who left this spring to work for the City and Borough of Juneau.

Homer had an interim city manager brought in, and City Planner Rick Abboud has been serving as acting city manager most recently.

The council voted unanimously to approve a contract with Dumouchel for the job during a special meeting on Tuesday. The contract is for a three-year term, after which it stipulates that it can be renewed through further negotiation. Mayor Ken Caster, Human Resources Director Andrea Browning and Abboud negotiated the contract with Dumouchel.

He’s set to make $120,000 annually, according to the contract. Koester was paid roughly $125,000 at the time she left the city, and the city had negotiated a $145,000 contract with their candidate choice from the first round of hiring earlier this year. The candidate, Randy Robertson, turned down the job.

According to the contract, Dumouchel is set to get four months of severance pay if the contract is terminated by the city. The contract also included a memorandum of understanding for a $15,000 relocation bonus. It will be paid in a separate check in one lump sum, and is contingent upon Dumouchel spending at least one year working for the city. If he leaves before one year is up, Dumouchel will have to pay that bonus back on a prorated basis depending on how many months he was with the city.

In describing the negotiation process, Castner said Dumouchel had asked for a higher salary in his initial proposal solicited by the city. Six months of severance pay was reduced to four during the negotiation process, Castner said.

“He had asked for the $15,000,” Castner said of the relocation bonus. “And again, that’s something that you had offered Randy Robertson. It’s kind of like a relocation allowance.”

It was at Browning’s suggestion that the memorandum of understanding was tailored to have Dumouchel pay back part of the bonus if he leaves the city before one year is up, Castner said.

Before the council members voted, council member Heath Smith brought up a concern about how raises will be handled. Smith noted that pay increases were not addressed directly in the contract, other than to say that “any additional increases in compensation to the Employee are dependent upon the results of an annual performance evaluation.”

Smith made a motion to amend the resolution and contract to include a cap or maximum percentage allowed for a pay increase, but the motion did not get a second and was not voted on.

An exact start date is not included in the contract and will be filled in later. Castner said he expects Dumouchel to begin work some time in August.

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