City council prepares for first job evaluation for city manager Sparks

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 10, 2003

How well is your city manager doing his job? If you’re curious, ask your city councilor.

For the first time, the city council members will complete performance evaluations of the city manager.

After the Thursday city council pre-agenda meeting, Mayor Jean Eaton gave each councilor a city manager’s job description and an evaluation packet. The council members were asked to compare City Manager Paul Sparks’ performance with the job description and evaluate eight areas of responsibility.

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Eaton said the evaluations should be given to her by the end of November, when she will tabulate them. In January, the council will discuss the results.

City Attorney Steve Schwab then closed the meeting to the public.

Eaton said that during the closed meeting, the council discussed legal issues related to the evaluation of the city manager.

&uot;We discussed the ground rules of what we can legally say about an employee to the public,&uot; she said.

When asked about the relationship between the evaluation and recent opposition to Paul Sparks, the mayor said that they were not related.

&uot;We planned this in February at the (city council) retreat.&uot;

Council member Warren Amundson said he thinks evaluating the city manager is a good idea because they can track Sparks’ goals.

&uot;It never hurts to get evaluated,&uot; council member Al Brooks said.

Although the councilors did not know if Sparks could be terminated due to overwhelmingly poor evaluations, Eaton said that the council would initiate an improvement plan before that occurred.

The eight areas of the city manager position that will be evaluated are organizational management, fiscal and business management, program development and follow-through, relationship with the city council, long-range planning, relationship with the public and public relations, interagency relations, and professional and personal development.

The evaluation packets include a definition of each responsibility and examples of each.

Council members were asked to give one of three ratings for Sparks’ performance in each area. The highest rating is &uot;Exceeds Expectations,&uot; the middle is &uot;Meets Expectations,&uot; and the lowest is &uot;Below Expectations.&uot;

There is also space allotted for comments, suggestions for improvement, commendations and comments from the city administrators.

(Contact Benjamin Dipman at or 379-3439.)