Letter to the editor

Dear Editor:

In response to Frank Lewis’ January 25 article “City council meets behind closed doors,” I should like to comment lest citizens believe we of council do not support our city manager.

First, council had mentioned at our meeting two weeks ago that we would probably go into Executive Session this past Monday. It was not a surprise to anyone. City Manager Derek Allen did not mention beforehand that he would prefer the discussion be in public. In addition, it was council’s desire to discuss the negative aspects of the evaluation; and there are some, which were discussed forthrightly with the city manager.

Second, the city manager was average rated at a 3.5 or better in: Develop Balanced Budget required by the State, Evaluate operations & staff to determine top priorities, Develop plan of action for each (and) provide updates (and) recommendations to City Council, Develop five year capital plan for infrastructure, facilities & large purchases, Fiscal Management Policy Execution, Reporting, Share Information with Council & Public regularly, and Plan with State Auditor & City Auditor to get off fiscal watch.

Third, there was one action and several conclusions reached during the Executive Session. The action was that the city manager’s request that his pay be increased the same amount as any future raise for city employees is now off the table. Any raise for the city manager will be determined by his evaluation. In my mind, he truly deserves a raise. As for conclusions; Mr. Allen and council agreed to meeting individually more often and working to ensure open, courteous lines of communication.

As for having tabled the ordinance to 1) provide Mr. Allen a raise with other employees and 2) pay for participation in ICMA Leadership Institute activities, I shall ask to bring this item from the table at our next meeting, motion to amend by removing part (1) and moving to approve part (2).

Finally, I am not hesitant to state that I believe we have a fine, hard-working and diligent City Manager in Derek Allen. It is my desire that he stay with us, guide us and help Portsmouth be successful and thriving.

Personal regards,

Kevin W. Johnson