Buckley hires new city administrator

Courtney Brunell comes from Lakewood as the city’s former planning manager.

Buckley welcomed Lakewood planning manager Courtney Brunell as its incoming city administrator during the city’s Sept. 13 city council meeting.

The city council officially signed off on her employment agreement at that meeting, unanimously agreeing to have her start on Oct. 10.

“I think the council’s making a good choice,” interim city administrator Dave Schmidt said.

City Councilmember Ron Smith, who served on the interview committee for the city administrator search, said Brunell was “heads and tails” above the other candidates and that the council could do no wrong in appointing her.

Councilmember Brandon Green agreed that she was “an excellent pick.”

Brunell has worked for nearly seven years as the planning manager at the City of Lakewood. She’s also been a management analyst at Tacoma. Brunell earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Seattle University and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Pacific Lutheran University.

Brunell will start at Step C at Range 14 of the city’s salary scale, which comes out to a salary of at least $12,885 per month or $154,620 per year. After a 12 month probationary period, she will be eligible to climb the salary scale by two steps, according to her hiring agreement with the city.

Schmidt was city administrator for nearly two decades prior to his retirement in 2020. His replacement, White River High School graduate Paul Weed, left the job in November 2021 after serving for a little more than a year and a half.

Weed’s letter of resignation, reviewed through a records request, was short, formal, and gave no indication of his reasons for leaving the job. He declined to comment on his resignation when asked during the city’s Nov. 9 city council meeting last year.

Schmidt came back to fill the position on an interim basis late last year while the city launched a search for Weed’s replacement, who they have now found in Brunell.

Also on Tuesday, the council…

• Unanimously adopted the 2021 Tacoma-Pierce County Solid Waste Management Plan. Cities have to sign onto the plan because they are regulated by the county and participate in waste management with it.

• Approved a purchase by the city of a 1/3 acre portion of the 540 Rosewood Court property for $245,000. The city will also take ownership of a fully functional shop located on that portion. All councilmembers but Sundstrom voted to approve the deal. Sundstrom said the City — and hence taxpayers — was “grossly overpaying” for the property.

• Unanimously voted to authorize the city to sign a contract with ClearGov, a small-government software service that city officials say should streamline its budget development process and make city financial information more accessible to the public. The annual subscription cost is $7,750.

• Heard from Fire Chief Eric Skogen that the city fire department has once again been selected by FEMA to receive an “Assistance to Firefighters” grant, this time worth roughly $71,000. The money will go toward replacing aging bunker gear used by firefighters. The city’s cost share is about $3,600.

• Heard from Police Chief Kurt Alfano, who updated the council on the department’s body camera pilot program. Four of the department’s 11 officers are currently wearing them, and by the end of October the whole department should be using them. October 6 will be the department’s next Coffee with A Cop at Anchor House Coffee Roasters.