Commission OKs contract with new city manager; start date is Oct. 1

Published on August 14, 2018

Photograph of City Manager Mark Washington

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The City Commission this afternoon approved a contract with newly appointed City Manager Mark Washington during its Committee of the Whole meeting. The three-year contract includes a start date of Oct. 1 and an annual salary of $250,000. The City Commission will formalize its vote on the contract at its 7 p.m. meeting today. 

In approving the multi-year contract – a change from the annual contract process for the city manager position – the City Commission cited the many opportunities and challenges faced by the community.

“This gives Mark the time he needs to work with City staff and our partners to dig into complex issues such as racial disparities, housing affordability and community and police relations and help us move forward together as a city,” Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said.
In discussing Washington’s annual salary, the City Commission pointed to his extensive experience in local government, including the past three years as assistant city manager in Austin, Texas. There, he oversaw eight departments, including human resources, communications and innovation – all priority areas for the Commission. In total, Washington has worked in local government for 22 years. For more on his background, CLICK HERE.

"I am thankful to the Commission for its selection and honored to serve as city manager for the City of Grand Rapids,” Washington said. “Grand Rapids is an outstanding community and is one of the great cities in our nation known for arts, culture, heritage, education, tourism, recreation, industry and economic vitality. Like many other growing communities, our successes in some areas have resulted in challenges in other areas such as affordability, housing, mobility, equity and community relations. I have been impressed with the West Michigan-Grand Rapidian civic pride that rightly acknowledges the things that are being done well in our community but also candidly and honestly appraises the areas needing improvement.  

“I look forward to working with the Commission, residents, city staff and community partners to better appreciate the issues and co-create solutions that will improve the delivery of municipal services and the quality of life for all residents."

Washington’s contract also includes a $40,000 stipend for relocation costs – something the City did not need the past 30 years since the city manager position was filled by a local candidate.

“We feel strongly that we need to provide a competitive salary and benefits package to attract national talent like Mark,” Mayor Bliss said. “This is a trend in cities across the country, including right here in Michigan, and something that our executive recruiter has recommended. It makes sense based on Mark’s expertise in our areas of focus and his leadership experience.”

Mayor Bliss noted that the City of Ann Arbor’s recently approved contract with its new city administrator, who also came from Austin, included a stipend for relocation costs.

Washington was appointed city manager by the City Commission on July 31, besting four other candidates. For more on the search process, CLICK HERE.

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