Council to Formally Terminate City Manager

By Beacon Staff

Kalispell City Council will hold a special meeting tonight to vote on formally terminating City Manager Jim Patrick’s employment contract. The council will then consider offering a contract to Myrt Webb to serve as interim city manager, and hold a work session to discuss Webb’s employment contract.

The city council announced Oct. 17 it was not renewing Patrick’s employment contract, effective immediately. In subsequent interviews, Mayor Pam Kennedy said the council had reached its decision on the matter at a closed executive session meeting, prior to a work session on transportation impact fees Oct. 13.

After the closed-door decision, the Daily Inter Lake contacted a Montana Newspaper Association attorney who called the council’s action, done in private, illegal. City Attorney Charlie Harball defended the council’s action, though a public vote tonight is likely to reinforce the council’s position that it is acting transparently. Kennedy and other council members have declined to name any specific reason for Patrick’s dismissal, instead citing a number of issues Kalispell has faced over the last year.

Webb’s contract will be for 160 days or longer if a city manager isn’t hired sooner, and both the city and Webb can end the contract sooner if they wish. His salary will be $4,000 per month, and he will not receive health insurance or retirement benefits, though he can accrue vacation and sick days. Webb will receive a cell phone and service, and use of a city vehicle for city business.

After the formal meeting, the council will hold a work session, at which no formal votes are allowed, to discuss the downtown revitalization project options for when the BNSF railroad tracks are removed. The city can also consider applying for a “Brownfield Grant” from the Environmental Protection Agency to mitigate contaminants in the soil from the railroad. The city has also been awarded a $12,500 matching grant from the state historic preservation office to expand downtown Kalispell’s historic district. Council must decide whether to decline or accept the grant award.

The council will also go over the hiring process for the new city manager.