Manchester Water District won't hire general manager
June 12, 2008 · Updated 10:01 AM
"The Manchester Water District Commissioners have backed away from a plan to hire a full-time general manager.The commissioners had floated the idea early in March, only to be rebuffed by angry ratepayers who felt the utility was being run properly under the current arrangement. Several suggested the plan was a thinly veiled attempt to hand the job to Commissioner Jacki Masters, who, in turn, denied she was ever a serious candidate.Currently, the 2,800-customer district is managed by the maintenance supervisor, who oversees field operations, and an office manager, who handles the business side. At a public meeting March 27 of the commissioners, ratepayers reportedly expressed their strong desire to maintain the status quo.It was a very well-attended meeting, and I think it would be fair to say the majority of those present were opposed to the idea of a general manager, said Commissioner Steve Pedersen. They raised some valid points, and we came to a decision I think everyone was satisfied with. Now it's time to put this behind us and move on.The district advertised the position with a state association of water districts and had heard from around a dozen applicants, but none were ever interviewed, officials said. Pederson said it was never determined how much the position would pay.What concerned many of the ratepayers who attended the public meeting was the possibility the opening might be filled by Masters, one of the district's three commissioners and currently the water manager for Peninsula Light Co. in Gig Harbor.Masters previously served as the district's office manager and, for a time, was its general manager. She said the possibility of resuming her old job had been discussed by the district's attorney, who concluded there was no legal reason a current commissionercould not also serve as general manager.But Masters said the idea of the same public official creating a new job and then filling it presented too great an ehtical dilemma.We've decided at this point to continue to work with the two excellent people we have running the district, Pederson said. Rather than bringing in someone new, we think it makes more sense to offer the two people we already have any additional training they might feel they need to keep things running smoothly."