Upon further review: Federal Way city manager gets raise

Council’s performance review identifies two areas Beets needs to improve on

Managing a city of over 87,000 occupants takes a person with the right mix of managerial and communication skills.

According to the city council, city manager Neal Beets is meeting performance standards but is still working to perfect those skills. Beets’ annual performance review was released Tuesday and has changed little over the past year.

Two areas of concern remain. Despite this, the council awarded him a 2 percent pay raise, which will begin next month. Beets currently makes approximately $144,060 a year.

“I think Neal is an excellent representative of the city,” city council member Jim Ferrell said. “I think our evaluation did recognize that in the pay increase.”

Beets rated as exceeding standards in three categories, demonstrating outstanding performance in two categories, meeting expectations in three categories and needing improvement in two areas. Overall, he was rated as “meets performance standards.”

“He had some great marks, some good marks and two places we wanted him to get better at,” Mayor Jack Dovey said.

According to the council, the two areas causing concern involved Beets improving his communication with the city council and his organizational leadership skills, according to the review.

“If you have seven bosses, you have to have a good system to communicate with all seven of them,” Dovey said. “We are working as a council to make sure all seven have the information they need.”

The council is looking for Beets to improve his ability to keep the group abreast of major city happenings, issue timely and effective responses to the council and public and demonstrate a willingness to listen to concerns and issues.

Ferrell said communication can be improved by providing more information to council members prior to meetings or prior to media coverage.

“We need to make sure there is continued dialogue and communication so we know what he’s doing and he knows where we’re at,” Ferrell said.

Dovey added the public should not view the rating as a bad one.

Beets’ organizational leadership skills are also lacking, the review stated. The council wants him to improve his ability to delegate responsibilities to department directors, attract and retain staff and enhance the staff’s job skills. The council noted concerns Tuesday over the loss of several public employees since the time Beets filled the city manager position.

“I think every city in the state is concerned about employees; That’s our asset,” Dovey said. “We want to make sure our manager is doing everything to make sure those people want to stay.”

Beets said he is dedicated to improving the areas the council is concerned about.

“My intention is to do my best to respond to those areas, “ he said. “That’s one of my goals for the next year, tomorrow, tonight.”

Since coming on board, Beets has successfully managed the city’s financial resources and continues to exceed in this category, according to his review. Beets also excels at communicating with the community, media and other government jurisdictions. He projects a positive city image, is visible in the community and strives to keep the public informed, according to his review.

“He’s a very likable, earnest city worker,” Ferrell said.

Beets received an outstanding performance rating for his ability to remain poised under pressure, demonstrate integrity and accept responsibility. Last year, the council told Beets he did a satisfactory job in meeting city council goals. This time around, he stepped up his efforts to identify, develop, maintain and complete capital projects — earning him a rating of exceeding standards.

Beets’ ability to handle significant special projects and his implementation of city policy and management of personnel meet performance standards.

He is doing his job at a level that is satisfactory and the council is looking for him to successfully manage the many projects Federal Way is now juggling, Dovey said. The public should not be concerned that Beets was not rated higher.

In the next year, Beets will be expected to maintain a balanced budget, answer to the council members and manage projects such as Safe City, the Symphony project and a performing arts center, he said.

“It is going to be critical for our city and manager to manage those projects and get to completion and get the benefit for our citizens,” Dovey said. “We are looking forward to Neal having a successful year.”

Contact Jacinda Howard at:

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Beets was hired in July 2006 after former city manager David Moseley left the position. He replaced interim city manager Derek Matheson. Beets, who came here from Roseville, Minn. had the experience the council was looking for. His last performance review was issued in October 2007 for the time period ranging from August 1, 2006 to July 31, 2007. His latest review can be found online in its entirety at

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