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Thomas Accepts City Manager's Contract With $170,000 Salary

Berett Wilber

Unalaska officially has a new city manager.

Thomas E. Thomas will start March 19.

"He agreed to a contract over the weekend, but we had to get the City Council’s okay on it," said Mayor Frank Kelty, who handled negotiations as directed by the council. "Now, we have a done deal."

Councilors approved the deal unanimously on Tuesday, offering Thomas an annual salary of $170,000. That’s about $10,000 more than former manager Dave Martinsonfirst earned.

Councilors didn’t comment on the contract publicly, after spending more than an hour discussing it in executive session. But Kelty said Thomas’ resume made him worth the money.

"He has a wealth of experience," said Kelty. "A lot of city manager experience. Also, accounting experience."

Thomas told KUCB that he's worked in local government for about 22 years, including stints in Illinois, Maryland, and Georgia.

"I’ve worked at every level," he said. "As a budget analyst, associate planner, assistant county manager, [and] city manager of organizations ranging from 40,000 to 100,000 [people]."

The contract provides Thomas, his wife, and their two children with $9,000 in moving expenses and four one-way tickets to the island.

If the council terminates Thomas without cause, he’ll receive the same moving expenses on his way out. He’ll also get 16 weeks’ pay, worth about $52,000. If he’s terminated with cause, the city doesn’t guarantee a severance package.

Thomas resigned from his previous post as city manager of Rock Island, Illinois in 2016, receiving a severance package worth six months’ pay. Local media reported that his resignation came soon after the breakdown of a deal with Walmart to build a store in the community.

Thomas’ start date comes about six months after Martinson’s contentious resignation. Martinson accepted a severance package worth about $30,000 in September, after clashing with the mayor and council over a “personnel matter.”

Assistant City Manager Erin Reinders will fill in until Thomas’ arrival. Nancy Peterson’s last day as interim manager is Friday, Feb 16.

Laura Kraegel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2020. She was KUCB's news director starting in 2019. We are proud to have her back in the spring of 2023 filling in as an interim reporter for KUCB.
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