News

Beets chosen as city manager

By PHILIP PALERMO

The Mirror

In the end, experience won out over potential, but just barely.

The Federal Way City Council unanimously chose Roseville, Minn., City Manager Neal Beets as its next city manager.

Beets edged Derek Matheson, who had been serving as the interim city manager since David Moseley left the position in December 2005.

While several council members characterized Matheson as a rising star and a potential city manager in the future, each praised Beets’ existing experience, especially in strategic planning and leading a growing city.

“Derek is absolutely top notch. He’s well-spoken. He knows our city inside and out,” council member Linda Kochmar said. “He may just need a little more time.”

Council member Dean McColgan, who headed a three-member council committee that oversaw the nearly seven-month search, said Beets had a bit more economic development experience.

In considering Federal Way’s needs and future goals, McColgan said the city needed someone with considerable experience with fast-growing cities.

“Some of the things, I think Neal Beets has a slight advantage over Derek,” he said.

Council member Jack Dovey said choosing Beets may work out for Matheson as well.

Beets’ presence could help Matheson gain the experience the council sought, Dovey said. If Beets ever decided to leave Federal Way, Matheson would be fully prepared to take over, Dovey added.

“We get the best of both worlds,” he said.

McColgan said they were aware of an apparent feud involving Beets and former Roseville Mayor John Kysylyczyn, a controversy that included a Web site claiming to be owned and operated by Kysylyczyn.

While McColgan said he was made aware of the Web site a week ago, council members were already notified of the issue by Waters-Oldani, the consulting group tasked by the city to seek out candidates.

A Jan. 13, 2006, letter allegedly written by Kysylyczyn to the Roseville Police Department accused Beets of overstepping his authority as city manager by conducting hearings regarding the suspensions of three liquor licenses.

McColgan said the controversy didn’t seem to negatively affect Beets’ standing. If anything, he said, the issues made the council even more diligent in its background checks of each candidate.

Council members also praised the seven-month candidate search, which involved two-day interview sessions with five finalists.

“It’s taken a long time because it is a very important decision for the city,” McColgan said.

The process featured panel interviews including several members of the business community and residents, who listed their thoughts on each finalist.

“City council seriously valued the pros and cons of panel members,” Mayor Mike Park said.

With a city manager selected, the next step will be contract negotiations, including setting an annual salary within the $125,000 to $150,000 range advertised by the city during the search.

McColgan said if contract negotiations go smoothly, Beets could start by Aug. 1.

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