Clarion file photo  In this March 4, 2014 file photo Kenai City Manager Rick Koch gives a presentation to the Kenai City council during a worksession. Koch was offered a position as the City of Palmer's City Manager but has since turned it down and signed a contract to remain in Kenai.

Clarion file photo In this March 4, 2014 file photo Kenai City Manager Rick Koch gives a presentation to the Kenai City council during a worksession. Koch was offered a position as the City of Palmer's City Manager but has since turned it down and signed a contract to remain in Kenai.

Koch renews contract to stay in Kenai

  • By DAN BALMER
  • Thursday, April 17, 2014 10:19pm
  • News

Kenai City Manager Rick Koch applied for and was offered a job as Palmer’s new city manager.

However, after weeks of negotiations and three executive sessions with the Kenai City Council, he has signed an agreement to keep his position in Kenai.

News of his candidacy for the job in Palmer came as a surprise to some council members.

Koch interviewed for the Palmer job on April 3, two days before his scheduled vacation. Mayor Pat Porter said she met with Koch the next day and he told her he had turned down the offer.

During the Wednesday council meeting, council member Mike Boyle requested to go into executive session to discuss the city manager’s actions, but Koch, who participated telephonically during this portion of the council meeting, requested the conversation remain in open session.

Boyle said he was surprised to find out through the media that Koch had been offered the position without hearing from him first.

Boyle did not specify where he had first seen the news of Koch’s candidacy — however the Palmer City Council agenda for its April 15 special meeting contained Koch’s name and the Mat Su Valley Frontiersman reported on April 12 that Koch had been offered the job.

“I question whether he was dealing with us in good faith,” he said. “He interviewed with them after he accepted his new contract and didn’t address us as a council. It’s an issue that bothers me.”

Current Palmer City Manager Doug Griffin, who is retiring next month, said Koch interviewed for the job with city clerk Janette Bower and city attorney Michael Gatti on April 3.

Koch was the public works director for the city of Palmer before taking the city manager position in Kenai in 2006. According to a 2006 Peninsula Clarion article his annual salary for his first contract was $98,440.

The City of Palmer held a special meeting April 15 and, following an executive session, the Palmer City Council announced that Joe Hannan had been hired as the new city manager. Bower said Hannan agreed to a two-year contract for $110,000 per year, with the option for a one-year extention and will start on May 14.

Porter said the council was slow in negotiating Koch’s contract and she doesn’t blame him for looking elsewhere. She said he is happy in Kenai.

“It is positive that we have a city manager that is wanted in other municipalities in the state,” she said. “He turned down substantially more money to stay here.”

Council members Ryan Marquis, Terry Bookey, Brian Gabriel and Tim Navarre all said they reached out and called Koch when they heard Palmer had offered him the job. Each said they didn’t think Koch was deceitful and called the subject a non-issue. Gabriel said Koch did communicate his intentions with council and said Boyle should have picked up the phone if he had any concern.

“I don’t understand why we are talking about it,” Gabriel said. “We are fortunate that he decided to stay because Palmer could have lured him away.”

Boyle said it is not his responsibility to call and didn’t think it was unreasonable to address the issue.

“The public has the right to know,” Boyle said.

This is not the first time Koch had applied for a job in the valley while working for Kenai.

In 2010, Koch applied for the position of Matanuska-Susitna Borough manager, according to a Peninsula Clarion article.

The council meeting ended before Koch could respond to the council’s comments when Navarre motioned to adjourn and Gabriel seconded that motion.

Porter said Koch should have been given time to reply, and city clerk Sandra Modigh said once a motion to adjourn has been accepted, the council could not go back on record.

Koch returns from vacation April 22, one day before a scheduled budget work session.

Reach Dan Balmer at daniel.balmer@peninsulaclarion.com

More in News

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Alexis Alamillo, of Anchorage, carries a sockeye salmon caught in a dipnet from the mouth of the Kenai River on Wednesday.
Kenai River dipnetting now open 24 hours a day

The liberalization of fishing regulation was effective starting Thursday evening

A drone rises into the air while kicking up dust, departing on a test flight for the use of beyond visual line of sight drone aircraft, at Furie Operating Alaska’s central processing facility in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Drone test flight operates beyond visual line of sight between Nikiski and a Cook Inlet platform

The drone could perform deliveries to and from Cook Inlet platforms

A map of Lower Skilak Campground shows the areas that will be closed in July and August 2024. (Graphic provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Areas of Lower Skilak Campground to close for repair starting Monday

The East Loop will be closed — projected to be reopened at noon on Aug. 4

Kenai Courthouse is photographed on Feb. 26, 2019, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Sterling resident sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexual abuse of minors

Additionally, Crane will face 15 years of supervised probation as well as sex offender registration and treatment

Shrubs grow outside of the Kenai Courthouse on Monday, July 3, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former Soldotna police officer acquitted of 2023 assault allegations

He was found not guilty following a five-day trial in late June

A parade of cars and trucks flying flags in support of former President Donald Trump proceed down the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Residents caravan across central peninsula in support of Trump

The parade came a day after an attempted assassination of the former president

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

Most Read