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Homka hired as Unalaska’s city manager, with Hladick to assist

Berett Wilber

After a yearlong search, Unalaska has a new city manager.

The City Council voted 6-0 Tuesday to hire Bil Homka. The former Unalaska planning director has worked as assistant city manager since the fall, and has served in the role of acting city manager several times.

City councilors said it was challenging to find qualified candidates for the permanent position. They interviewed three people for the job, including Homka, who first joined the city in 2017.

“It’s pretty tough to find city managers in this day and age, and I’m really thankful that Mr. Homka stayed and filled in where we needed,” said Vice Mayor Dennis Robinson.

“What became clearly obvious to me was that there will probably be no other applicants for the city manager that are qualified to meet our needs. And I’ve seen a vast improvement in Mr. Homka," said Robinson. "He grasps things pretty darn quick, and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

This is Homka’s first full-time role as a city manager, and several councilors said they were hesitant to hire him at first. But Mayor Vince Tutiakoff Sr. told Homka he’s been impressed by how Homka has grown during short-term stints as the city’s chief administrator.

“I like what I’ve seen in the last three months, working with you,” said Tutiakoff. “Seeing your improvement on your job, your dedication to the community. And you’re willing to learn from other people.”

To get Homka started, councilors also voted 6-0 to hire former Unalaska city manager Chris Hladick on a four-month consulting contract that’ll begin in June.

Councilor Shari Coleman called the Hladick contract an “investment” in helping Homka succeed.

Hladick will be based off-island, but he’ll be available to assist Homka with budget issues, capital projects, and general management of the city. He’ll also join upcoming city lobbying trips to Juneau and Washington D.C.

Hladick served as Unalaska’s city manager for 14 years, from 2001 to 2015, and he stepped in last year as an interim.

“Chris is a great asset to the city and will be to Bil, especially when he has a question that he can’t answer or maybe just needs a little bit of guidance,” said Councilor Daneen Looby.

Homka said he’s already learned a lot from Hladick, and he’s looking forward to working with Hladick again. He said he’s happy that councilors are trusting him with the city manager job — while building in the extra support.

“I never wanted them to just jump on it,” said Homka. “I wanted them to be confident. And if they weren’t, okay. They are, and it’s a very humbling thing. And I appreciate it.”

Homka said he’s drawn to the job because he enjoys the challenges — and the ways the community pulls together to address them. Situated on an island, he said the City of Unalaska has to be self-reliant and creative in ways that other communities don’t.

“Deciding hard questions is part of the fun of finding out where you’re going to go, and that’s what I like here,” said Homka. “There are so many opportunities compared to other places. I mean, other places don’t have responsibility for the port. A port authority will do that. They don’t fund schools the way we do. You know, a county collects those taxes and helps with that.”

May 10 was Homka’s first official day as Unalaska’s city manager. He’s under contract for two years, earning a base salary of $185,000 in the publicly funded position. Hladick’s hourly rate as a consultant is set at $150.

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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