Charisse Deschenes will serve as Sequim interim city manager for up to six months when city councilors will evaluate promoting her and/or begin a search for a different permanent city manager. Photo courtesy of Charisse Deschenes

Charisse Deschenes will serve as Sequim interim city manager for up to six months when city councilors will evaluate promoting her and/or begin a search for a different permanent city manager. Photo courtesy of Charisse Deschenes

Deschenes promoted to interim city manager

Contract gives council six months to consider her in to permanent position

Charisse Deschenes is officially Sequim’s interim city manager.

City councilors approved her contract at Monday night’s city council meeting in a 6-0 vote, with mayor William Armacost absent.

Deschenes’ new role follows the resignation of city manager Charlie Bush; councilors voted 4-2 on Jan. 11 asking for his resignation, and he agreed to resign days later.

Bush’s last day with the city after five-plus years was Feb. 12. No reasons have been disclosed for his resignation.

Deputy Mayor Tom Ferrell said he felt Deschenes’ contract was fair.

“I’m quite happy we have someone of Charisse’s caliber,” he said Monday.

“Those of you who don’t know her very well, I think you’re in for a treat. She’s got a lot of good ideas and she’s action-oriented.”

Deschenes originally agreed to take on the interim position last year after Bush announced his plan to resign in February of 2020 to hike the Appalachian Trail. However, he asked to rescind the resignation to help the city through the COVID-19 pandemic, and councilors unanimously agreed. Bush was reinstated on March 23, 2020.

Armacost said at the Feb. 8 city council meeting that Deschenes has “the full support of the council and I believe of staff as well,” and that he expects “operations of the city to continue smoothly with her as acting city manager.”

The council has not held public discussion regarding a city manager search.

Deschenes’ annual salary as Interim City Manager will be $123,000, and it includes health and retirement benefits, a $300-per-month car allowance, and paid professional development dues and subscriptions for various associations and organizations.

The contract states her performance review will come on or before Aug. 16, six months after her start date in the position. If promoted to permanent city manager, Deschenes’ increased salary could range from $131,185-$149,223, the contract states.

Similar to Bush’s contract, Deschenes is an at-will employee for an indefinite term and may be removed by the City Council at any time, with or without cause.

If she’s not promoted to city manager on or before Aug. 16, she’ll be offered the opportunity to return as assistant city manager with all her accrued leave intact, unless her employment is terminated, the contract states.

If terminated as interim or permanent city manager, her contract states she’ll receive six months base salary and six months of continued health insurance coverage.

Deschenes began working with the city in 2014 as senior planner and served as assistant to the city manager before being promoted to assistant city manager. She earned a bachelor’s degree in park and resource management from Kansas State University and a master of business administration degree from Benedictine College.

She also completed the Senior Executive Institute from the Weldon Cooper School of Public Management and the Northwest Women’s Leadership Academy.

She alsi is a 2020 graduate of the Leadership International City/County Management Association class.

Deschenes said she’s thankful for the opportunity to serve.

“The City has an excellent, committed and professional staff and leadership team and I am proud to be a part of that,” she said via email.

“I want to thank Charlie Bush for his years of friendship and mentorship that have helped prepare me for this opportunity. I wish him all the best.”

She added that she looks forward to working with the city council on their goals and working with the community through and beyond the pandemic.

“Many projects and programs were put on hold to react to COVID-19,” she said. “The Sequim Team is eager to make progress and work together with the community.”

For more information about the Sequim city council, visit sequimwa.gov or call 360-683-4139.

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