Kenai Finance Director Terry Eubank presents during a budget work session on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Finance Director Terry Eubank presents during a budget work session on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai tries again to fill city manager position

After 1st round of negotiations fall through, Kenai to pursue Eubank for role

The City of Kenai will offer the position of city manager to current finance director Terry Eubank following “unsuccessful” contract negotiations with Police Chief David Ross, who was offered the position last week.

Eubank, a graduate of Kenai Central High School, has worked as the City of Kenai’s finance director since 2008 and previously worked as a controller for the Kenai Peninsula Borough. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from the University of Alaska.

If contract negotiations between Eubank and the City of Kenai are successful, Eubank will take over for current City Manager Paul Ostrander, who announced in late September that he would not renew his contract with the city. Ostrander has been employed as city manager since 2017.

In his capacity as finance director, Eubank wrote in his application for the position, he has previously been appointed acting city manager during city manager absences and interim city manager during times of transition. Eubank during a Nov. 16 interview with the Kenai City Council emphasized his credentials and love for Kenai in describing his interest in the city manager position.

“This is a community that I love,” Eubank told council members. “It’s very important to me, something I’ve always tried to give back to. I think this is a next step in my career to continue that path of living and working in this community and giving back to it.”

If contract negotiations are successful, Eubank told council members his immediate focus as city manager would be to redefine his role within the city and among employees, who for 12 years have known him as the director of finances.

“I probably say ‘no’ more in this organization than anybody else and I think what I have to clearly work with my department heads and get across to them is that my relationship as a city manager is a completely different relationship as your finance director,” Eubank said.

In a management position, Eubank said he values a “team concept” in which he is the coach. He doesn’t enjoy “micromanaging,” he said.

“I don’t get into the day-to-day doings of (employees’) work, I just expect it to get done and they get evaluated accordingly,” Eubank said. “I think I have the most success with that because people are professionals, they like to be treated like professionals, they like to be given the freedom to make decisions and be empowered to do their job to the best of their abilities.”

When it comes to the division of responsibility between the city manager and the city council, Eubank was clear: The city council sets policies and the city manager enforces those policies. It is not the city manager’s job, he said, to insert their personal opinions into council deliberations.

“I do not believe it is the role of the city manager to express an opinion when it’s just an opinion,” Eubank said “The city manager is not the eighth legislator on the dais. The responsibility of the city manager is to provide clear, objective information for the making of a decision.”

Eubank told council members during his interview that, if he becomes the next city manager, he would begin recruiting for his own replacement “as soon as” he could.

The Kenai City Council will convene for a special meeting on Nov. 28 to negotiate a contract with Eubank.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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