Two senior staffers have left city hall in Sitka, one after just three months in his position. Human Resources Director Matthew Ione gave notice of his departure last week; Community Affairs Director Maegan Bosak also turned in her notice and will take a job at SEARHC.
City Administrator Keith Brady said the departures of Ione and Bosak are being felt throughout the building.
“The loss of Matthew and Maegan are big. Matthew came in, he’s already done good work. He was supporting management and employees in his job,” Brady said. “I’m happy for both of them, it’s just sad for us.”
After three years as the community affairs director — and a previous term as planner — Bosak has accepted a position with SEARHC. Brady said city leadership played a role in Ione’s decision to leave after two months.
“A lot of it came through the budget meetings with the assembly and the assembly’s action to do a hiring freeze. It’s the uncertainty coming from there,” Brady said. “It’s really too bad that the current political climate is pushing him away.”
KCAW reached out to Ione but did not receive a response by press time.
The departures come shortly after the Sitka Assembly made two decisions that increase its oversight in the city hiring process. In April, the assembly instituted a city wide hiring freeze and created an assembly subcommittee that will review all city positions as they open, and make a recommendation to the assembly about whether to fill the position or not.
The move was made in an effort to reduce the city budget through staff attrition, but Brady says it means more public meetings are on the horizon, in order to conform to open meeting laws which otherwise allow three or fewer assembly members to gather without public notice.
“The subcommittee is gonna be interesting. Our city attorney has looked at different things and found that within the state’s code or state’s statute,” Brady said. “The idea, because we have 7 assembly members, that 3 is free, that they don’t have to do things in public- is kind of true, but when the governing body makes another sub-division, the subcommittee still has to meet in public.”
Brady says they’ll give notice for those meetings. There are currently 7 open positions the subcommittee needs to consider, and their first meeting hasn’t been scheduled yet.
“It basically just slows down the process quite a bit in terms of who and how we’re hiring.”
One position that is on the fast track is the police chief, which is currently filled by interim police chief Robert Baty. Brady says he hopes to have made a decision about that position by Friday (5/24/19). But even then the Sitka Assembly may present another roadblock: It holds the power to approve the appointment or removal of all department heads.