Friday, June 6, 2008

Signed on the dotted line

Contract made official for new Ketchum administrator

Express Staff Writer

Gary Marks

After more than two weeks of negotiations, the Ketchum City Council has made official a contract to employ Montana resident Gary Marks as the city administrator.

At a special meeting on Thursday, June 5, council members approved Mayor Randy Hall's selection of Marks, currently the city manager of Whitefish, Mont. Hall has promoted Marks as the best of the five candidates invited to be interviewed in Ketchum in May.

"Gary possesses all the skill sets required to do a great job with our city and be a great fit," Hall said. "He is professional and well-spoken, but his financial background really gave him the edge."

For his work, Marks will receive $153,104 per year, representing the top end of the planned salary range.

Hall said the salary figure is in line with that of Marks' predecessor, Ron LeBlanc, who left the city in January with a salary of around $140,000 per year.

In addition, the city will provide Marks with a $1,300-per-month housing subsidy for up to five years.

While the council voted unanimously to appoint Marks to the city's top staff position, Councilman Ron Parsons voted against the contract, stating that he's not comfortable with the amount and allowable length of the housing stipend.

To this end, Councilman Larry Helzel said that the city is looking into creating a program to provide city employees with down-payment assistance, with the city receiving an equity stake in the purchased real estate.

However, Helzel said such a program, which would be administered by an organization other than the city, would take at least six months to implement and that the contract was necessary as written to get Marks in place as soon as possible.

Marks has held his current position in Whitefish for the past nine years, and, prior to that, was the city administrator of North Bend, Ore.

Hall said that Marks, who will come to Ketchum with his wife and their five children, has given 60-days notice to his current employer and is anticipated to start in Ketchum in the beginning of August.

In the meantime, Hall said that Jim Jaquet, who stepped down from the interim city administrator position at the end of May, will be available to help when necessary.

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