Vancouver city manager draws praise, raise

Holmes’ performance deemed ‘very good’ in his first evaluation

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: December 14, 2011, 6:54 PM

 

In his first evaluation from his seven bosses, Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes garnered both praise and a 3.5 percent salary increase.

Holmes — who was promoted from assistant city manager to the city’s top job in October 2010 — was praised for his rapid transition into the role and received an 8.34 out of 10 in the evaluation process.

“The council is extremely pleased with his performance, particularly given the circumstances,” Mayor Tim Leavitt said. “I personally see that his leadership style has resulted in a high level of credibility.”

The council’s raise means Holmes will be paid $167,152 a year plus benefits. Other management-level staff got 1.5 percent raises this fall, with the option for other merit-based pay increases.

The city manager is the only staff member the city council can set compensation for and hire or fire. Vancouver has a city manager/council form of government, where elected officials set policy and the professional administrator implements that policy.

The city council spent three hours in executive session on Monday discussing Holmes’ performance. Leavitt said members gave him high marks for public outreach, his work on the city’s budget and how he has fostered strong relationships with unions.

“One comment from a council member was they weren’t sure if anyone else could have accomplished as much in the first year,” the mayor said.

Holmes’ performance was rated “very good,” and Leavitt said that the only serious criticism from the council was that he pushes topics along too quickly at times, a concern to which the city manager was very responsive.

“He’s anxious to make good progress and move forward on issues,” Leavitt said. “Council would like to have opportunity for more debate amongst ourselves.”

Holmes, 42, has 20 years experience in public administration, including as the planning director for Washougal and Battle Ground and as city manager in Battle Ground. He was hired as Vancouver’s economic development director in 2007, after a year as chief financial officer for MacKay & Sposito, a private-sector engineering and consulting firm. He was appointed Vancouver’s assistant city manager in April 2010. He holds a bachelor’s degree in planning, public policy and management from the University of Oregon, and a master’s degree in public administration from Lewis & Clark College.

“It is an honor to serve the city council and the Vancouver community,” Holmes said in a statement. “These are difficult times for our region, and I am pleased with what the employees of the city, my management team and I have accomplished over the last year.”

Leavitt said his relationship with Holmes has been very collaborative, and that the two process information in much the same way.

“As mayor of our city, I want to acknowledge that Eric and I have a very good working relationship,” Leavitt said.

Previous City Manager Pat McDonnell earned $171,650 plus benefits annually when he left the city in November 2010. He served as the city’s top administrator for a decade.

Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542 or andrea.damewood@columbian.com or www.facebook.com/reporterdamewood or www.twitter.com/col_cityhall