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Unalaska city manager resigns

September 15th 9:55 am | Jim Paulin Print this article   Email this article  

Unalaska City Manager David Martinson has resigned, effective Sept. 29.

According to Mayor Frank Kelty, "in the last six to eight months, the council, including the mayor, has had some major disagreements with manager Martinson. This has led to hard feelings that have made the working relationship very uncomfortable."

At a recent meeting, Martinson said his relationship with the council had sustained "irreparable" damage.

Kelty wrote that the manager came to his office and said, "Mayor, this marriage isn't working. You should just go to the council to see if they would terminate my contract without cause, and I'll leave."

According to City Attorney Brooks Chandler, Martinson's severance package includes $4,000 in moving expenses, one-way airfare to Anchorage, and a lump sum payment of $25,000.

"At a salary of $165,000 per year, $25,000 represents about eight weeks of pay, $385 less by my calculation," Chandler said.

The deal also includes two weeks of free rent in city employee housing, and free water, sewer, electricity and heating fuel.

The severance package represents a compromise, according to Kelty, who said Martinson initially sought $37,000 in severance pay, two airfares to Anchorage, and a last day of work on Nov. 1. The moving expenses remained the same at $4,000.

Martinson said in an email that he signed the agreement last Friday.

His resignation followed a stormy city council meeting two weeks ago, attended by over 80 people, many speaking in support of the embattled former military officer. Martinson said he spent 26 years in the U.S. Air Force, and moved 13 times in that period. Before returning to the public sector, he spent about a year working for a defense contractor owned by a Native American group in the Lower 48.

In his job interview with the city council, Martinson, a retired colonel with an engineering background, said the city manager slot would be his last job. He said he hoped to stay for 10 years, until age 60, and spend his time afterwards as a campground host.

When offered the job two years ago, Martinson said the final say rested with his wife, Erin, who he said represented the "51 percent" vote in important family decisions. Last week, he said his decision on whether to go or stay in Unalaska likewise hinged on the outcome of conversations with his wife.

Martinson started work in October 2015, replacing longtime manager Chris Hladick, who left for a new job as commissioner of the State Department of Commerce and Economic Development.

Jim Paulin can be reached at jpaulin@reportalaska.com.

 

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