City manager of Polson does not renew contract

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The city of Polson is currently operating without a city manager.

Mark Shrives, now the former city manager, told The Leader last Thursday that he chose not to sign a one-year contract that city commissioners passed during a special meeting, saying “it’s not what was negotiated.” He declined further comment.

The purpose of the meeting, held Monday, Oct. 22, was to adopt Shrives’ renewal of a two-year contract, which expired over the weekend.

Initially, commissioners voted against the two-year contract with a 3-3 vote. They immediately followed up on the vote by presenting a one-year contract, which passed in a 5-1 vote.

Ward 1 Commissioner Lou Marchello was absent from the meeting, which lasted about 80 minutes.

Shrives began his role of city manager on Oct. 15, 2013.

First to speak at the meeting was Ward 2 Commissioner Stephen Turner, who stated that while talking with community members, they advised Turner and city commissioners not to renew Shrives’ contract, to which he told commissioners he would agree with the decision.

POLSON MAYOR Paul Briney said that a recent performance appraisal on Shrives was completed, and he thought it was agreed on by “most” of the commissioners, stating that it didn’t seem “to highlight any significant problems.”

Briney then said that the time during the appraisal would have been ample to address concerns.

Ward 3 Commissioner Ian Donovan asked why the review was happening in October when it should have been done in May.

Briney answered that the reason the meeting was held later than it usually is was because he was still getting acclimated to being mayor, and extended the process.

Briney said that many issues arose before he became mayor at the beginning of 2018, and although he and Shrives haven’t always agreed on everything, Briney has felt Shrives has been fair in his decision-making.

“We do have a working relationship,” the mayor said.

WARD 2 Commissioner Bob Martin said that he received negative calls that weren’t based on Shrives being incompetent, but rather more with his attitude.

Following some discussion, Ward 1 Commissioner Jan Howlett said that the conversations and decisions seemed to be based on personality rather than Shrives’ position.

Commissioners and most community members that had reservations and spoke on record did not provide specific dates or instances as to why Shrives should not be city manager, but gave general examples, urging commissioners to wait until Marchello could be present to make the vote.

Brodie Moll, Ward 3 Commissioner, said that while he’s had complaints, there have not been specific instances of Shrives not performing as city manager.

“Give me some dates, times and places” regarding what issues people have with Shrives, Moll said.

DURING THE meeting, Shrives addressed commissioners ONCE stating that he submitted his contract with other paperwork to commissioners about two weeks prior and hadn’t heard feedback.

“I’m a little disappointed that I’m hearing from Commissioner Turner and Commissioner Martin tonight, that they had concerns,” Shrives started off, naming the two commissioners who stated that Shrives’ contract not be renewed.

The next city commission meeting is at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 106 First Street, East, in council chambers.

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